Seekers and Sharers

5.16.23 Devo Image

“Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. In the law it is written: ‘With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,’ says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.”—1 Corinthians 14:20–25 (NKJV)

This passage from 1 Corinthians is best understood within the context of what Paul had written just prior to it. It’s highly recommended that you refer to yesterday’s devotional which covers that ground. But suffice it to say, Paul had just corrected the Corinthian Church for misusing the gift of tongues by exercising it in their public gatherings without any consideration of others. It had become an exercise in serving self rather than serving others. A spiritual gift was being used in an unspiritual way because nobody could understand what was happening. They needed to turn from this practice and focus on benefitting everyone gathered by using spiritual gifts in ways everyone could understand.

Now, Paul digs a bit deeper into this as he goes on to emphasize how important spiritual understanding is. He compares a Christian’s growing comprehension of spiritual knowledge to the process of life itself. We’re created to grow in our understanding of spiritual things, just as a baby is created to eventually mature into adulthood. Spiritual understanding isn’t optional, but absolutely necessary in the believer’s life. And Paul is going to show how the nature of the gift of tongues and the nature of the gift of prophecy relate to this.

He does something a little unexpected and points back to the Old Testament, specifically Isaiah 28:11–12. When Isaiah originally wrote this, it was a word of judgement against Israel for rejecting what God had clearly been telling them. God was telling them that since they rejected His words, they would have to deal with the foreign powers who would speak in ways they couldn’t understand, and they would serve as God’s instruments of correction. The point being, Israel should have prioritized what they were able to understand. 

Paul parlays this point into the Corinthian Church now by pointing out that understanding is what matters most. It’s more important in the Church’s gathering to prioritize a gift that everyone can understand, such as the gift of prophecy. Now, when we hear the word “prophecy” our minds automatically go to the prediction of future events. That can be an aspect of the Bible’s use of the word “prophecy.” But prophecy in the Bible is much more than foretelling future events. It’s the forthtelling of God’s truth. It’s speaking the Word of God in any capacity. 

That is what Paul is describing here. He’s saying that it’s better for everyone who gathers in the Church, whether they’re believers or non-believers, to hear the gift of prophecy being exercised rather than the gift of tongues. Prophecy has the power to convict a person’s heart and reveal their need for Christ; tongues doesn’t. The gift of tongues has its proper place when used correctly (which the Corinthians weren’t). But Paul wants everyone to know that the gift of prophecy has a much greater place because everyone can understand it and so it impacts everyone. 

Again, God created us to grow, both physically and spiritually. And one of the most important ways we grow spiritually is by understanding more and more of God’s truth through the gift of prophecy. Prophecy, the foretelling of God’s truth, should be our priority—both in what we seek for ourselves and in what we share with others. 

Pause: What two spiritual gifts are in view in this passage and how do they differ from one another?

Practice: Consider how prophecy, God’s truth, is being sought and shared in your life.

Pray: Lord, I ask for a deeper hunger and thirst for Your truth. Let my life be defined by what Your Word declares and not by my opinions, emotions, or any other factor in this world. May I be a seeker and sharer of Your truth. Amen. 

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.