Let all things be done for edification.
1 Corinthians 14:18-40 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord. 22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 36 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?
37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. 38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
In today’s text, speaking of the use of spiritual gifts in the church, Paul says: Let all things be done for edification. Often, in the church today, we misunderstand what it means to edify. We think that edification is building up, encouraging, we think that edification is pleasant. Edification is good, but it may not always be pleasant. Edification is defined as: the instruction or improvement of a person morally or intellectually; moral improvement or guidance. So edification in the church, what all things are to be done for, is to teach and guide that we might improve, intellectually, spiritually and morally. To improve is to change and get better. So edification is more than building up, it is building better. In 2 Timothy 4:2-5 Paul says: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, (edify) with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. Surely in our culture and society, and also in much of the church, the truth is no longer relevant. What has become the focus is people’s desires, what they want, what makes them feel better, not what makes them become better.
In today’s text it says: What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification… Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted. So again it is for the purpose of learning and exhortation. Exhortation is also misunderstood. Exhortation is defined as: an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something. Jesus Himself, from the beginning and throughout His ministry spoke a message of exhortation. He said: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) To repent is to: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life - to feel regret or contrition - to change one's mind. So Jesus exhortation, His emphatic communication is that we should change; both the way we act and the way we think. In 2 Timothy 3:16 it says: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. All scripture, the God inspired written word and also God’s living word, what He speaks today, through prophets and teachers, by the Holy Spirit, is for edification, to make us better.
God is a God of love, mercy and grace. He is compassionate, patient and kind. He loves us so much that He wants what is best for us, to edify, to exhort, to cause us to change. The church today needs to be who and what God has called them to be, to be His representatives and messengers to the world, to exhort and edify. So we have come full circle in Paul’s message about spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 13, he says: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may I use the gifts You have given me for the purpose of exhortation and edification. May I encourage and not condemn others. But may I encourage them, as You do, in love, that they might change and improve, that they might know Your truth. May all that I do be done for edification, in love. Amen.