Words That Build Up
1 Corinthians 14:1-19
Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will
strengthen the whole church (v.12).
Imagine if I were to continue writing this article in
Simplified Chinese script. Even if I were to write in
excellent prose and share some inspiring truths, it
wouldn’t add anything to your life (unless you know
Simplified Chinese). The reason is obvious. Intelligibility
precedes understanding. Everyone can understand that!
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, “I would rather speak five
understandable words to help others than ten thousand
words in an unknown language” (14:19). The point of his
words is clear: Let love be your highest goal as you use
your gifting to build up the church.
By way of illustration, Paul compared two gifts—
speaking in tongues and prophesying—to teach that
love and building up others must always be the modus
operandi in the exercising of our spiritual gifts. Without
negating the gift of tongues, Paul said, “I wish you could
all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could
all prophesy” (v.5). Why? Because prophesying has
a threefold effect: It “strengthens others, encourages
them, and comforts them” (v.3). The one who speaks in
tongues, on the other hand, only builds up himself.
A Bible teacher paraphrased 1 Corinthians 4:12 this
way: “Eagerly desire, as a result of God’s gifting in your
life, to be able to bring the truth of the Word of God to
bear upon the fellowship in which you worship at the
level of teaching, instruction, correction, and rebuke.”
So now that we have taken Paul’s words to heart, what was I saying in the
first sentence of this devo? In English, it means: Words have the power to build
up or tear down.
—Poh Fang Chia
How have you been edifying and building up other believers in Jesus
by your words? What spiritual gifts has God given you which you can
use to help His children?