12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
13:2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
13:5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
13:7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13:8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;
13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13:13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
14:1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
14:2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.
14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.
14:4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.
14:5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. NAS
Have you ever wondered why the famous “love” chapter (1 Corinthians 13) is squeezed in right between two contexts that involve speaking in other tongues? Whether or not you accept speaking in tongues as being a legitimate practice in the church today is relevant ONLY if your interpretation of agápe love is explained with tongues intertwined. The apostle Paul’s exhortations regarding the use of tongues for maximum church edification cannot be separated from the description of agápe love and visa versa. Consider my first example below:
© 1 Corinthians 13:1a, 8a,c with 14:1a, 2, 4a, 5a If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love… Love never fails…if there are tongues, they will cease... Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts…For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries… One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues… NAS
Above, I have listed only partial verses intentionally; my reason for this is to show the degree and frequency of interval that tongues is used in its relationship to love. In the text of 1 Corinthians chapter 13, the “love” mentioned is a particular kind known as agápe. I will not spend excessive time in rebuttal of the view that is against speaking in tongues for the contemporary church. If someone doesn’t want to speak in tongues, they cannot be persuaded with mere rhetorical arguments; the willingness to yield must first be there, and then he or she must determine whether or not they are in compliance with two fundamental commandments:
1. Earnestly desire the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31)
2. Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1-2)
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Tongues are not the sign to others that we are disciples of the Lord, but our love. Nevertheless, he also emphasizes the need to pursue spiritual gifts, for the purpose of empowering us to love with HIS love.
Regardless of how you define “greater” gifts or “spiritual” gifts, the inescapable fact is that both of these are tied directly to speaking in tongues. Even if tongues is the very least of all the spiritual gifts, as many purport, it is still a “gift” from God, so doesn’t that make it worthy of your pursuit or consideration?
It appears the Corinthian church was more focused on outward manifestations of the Spirit and the most notable ministries, such as the apostles, prophets, and gifts of healing, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues (READ 1 Corinthians 12).
This church, comprised largely of Gentile converts, was very immature in their newfound faith. Paul’s primary emphasis in chapters 12, 13, and 14 is maturity; he is concerned with the edification of each member of the body, and his observations prove the Corinthian church falls short of hitting the mark.
In their immaturity, the Corinthian church shared reciprocal guilt for their neglect of the most important members. Perhaps they failed to acknowledge the quiet people, or the reflective and often inward people; or perhaps they distained those poorly dressed and those with disfiguring diseases, shunned because of their outward defect; maybe the slow in speech were mocked in gossip, and we know the poor were ignored altogether, often going without any food whatsoever, as others gorged themselves in their so-called “love feasts,” (1 Corinthians 11:18-34).
Is this sinful partiality and rude behavior unique to the Corinthian church, or does it still exist today? I often wonder if we would recognize Jesus should he walk into our midst on Sunday morning. What would he look like? Would we all turn our gaze upon him in recognition of his fair skin, beautiful blue eyes, and long, neatly combed hair so typical in paintings that portray the crucified King? If you own a copy of the Amplified Bible, read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, who describes in detail what the future Messiah would be like; see if Isaiah’s description of Jesus matches your own.
Below, I am going to list the individual verses, as they appear in the Amplified Bible, followed by my opinion of what the verse could be saying, describing Jesus in terms we can identify with. You may disagree or agree with my description. More than anything, I hope to get you thinking; I’d rather have you angry and upset at me than to sit there in apathetic indifference, and think everything is just hunky-dory.
Isaiah 52:14 with 53:2 For the Servant of God grew up before Him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He has no form or comeliness royal, kingly pomp, that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. For many the Servant of God became an object of horror; many were astonished at Him. His face and His whole appearance were marred more than any man's, and His form beyond that of the sons of men--but just as many were astonished at Him. AMP
† The Hebrew word for, “marred,” means, “disfigured,” but originates from a root word meaning, “decayed.” Growing up as a boy, it is likely Jesus was not physically enhanced; he was given no admiration or respect. His face was blemished and damaged, possibly even mottled by some sort of skin disease. Certainly he was not a handsome boy or man and he had no visible beauty to make him desirable. Does this mean all the paintings of Jesus are wrong and he doesn’t have the Revlon glow, as depicted by countless artists? Growing up Jesus likely had severe acne or some other skin disease that caused decay and disfigurement, leaving his face permanently scarred, pitted, deformed and likely it was disgusting to look at. His teeth may have even been crooked, and he may have even had a drooping eyelid. His soft brown eyes revealed a heart of love, tenderness and sensitivity, but how many people would take the time to look?
Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like one from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. AMP
† Jesus was despised and rejected and forsaken by men. Despised… this word connotes meanness. I can visualize Jesus’ own siblings, in childish fits of jealousy, saying things like, “Jesus thinks he’s special, Jesus thinks he’s special. Well you’re NOT special Jesus! You’re just a little wimp, and besides, you’re ugly and your breath stinks.” Kids sometimes say the most hurtful things, and there’s good reason to believe the devil used the foul mouths of other children to pick on and torment Jesus. We know how he was despised during his crucifixion and ministry, and can only imagine what else his suffering soul endured.
† Jesus was a Man of sorrows and pains; it is very possible that his Father in heaven allowed him to suffer debilitating bouts with depression. No doubt his life as one set apart would make him the object of cruel childhood and adolescent teasing. His physical deformity or ugliness may have gotten him all manner of mean spirited nicknames.
† Isaiah says Jesus was acquainted with grief and sickness. Was Jesus really sick? The great physician who healed the multitudes was actually sick? This concept is going to rain all over the parade of the prosperity preachers. How do we think Jesus learned to have such compassion if he never suffered illness or physical pain? I speculate Jesus was probably ill and infirmed most all of his life, and probably found respite from the illness and pain during his 3 ½ years of ministry, enabling him to fulfill his destiny, but preparing him for the ultimate price he would pay.
† The Hebrew word choliy (OT: 2483) for sickness is unmistakable in Isaiah 53:3; it means, “malady, anxiety, sickness, and calamity.” Choliy is derived from a root word chalah (OT: 2470) that means, “To be rubbed or worn; to be weak, sick, afflicted.” Not only was Jesus sick and infirmed, he was ACQUAINTED with physical suffering, intimating he was very familiar with it. He was rubbed and worn, implying the disease and pain had mental and emotional, as well as physical distress. Thus I conclude Jesus struggled with depression, which forced him to be dependent upon his Father in heaven for joy, strength, and the ability to forge ahead.
† Jesus was a man from whom others hid their faces, so they wouldn’t have to deal with him. Jesus might have looked like some feeble looking man you passed in the aisles at Wal-Mart. He had no notoriety, no royal ambiance and was despised by the people he came to save.
Why all the mention of Jesus in the context of the love chapter in 1 Corinthians chapter 13? What is the connection to speaking in tongues, and how is all of this related? The answer is quite simple; Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 25, in his parable of the sheep and goats, that when we do or don’t do something for one of his brethren, even the very LEAST of them, we do or we don’t do it to HIM. Why do you think he made an association with himself and the sick in this parable?
† Matthew 25:36 “I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me.” AMP
After Adam sinned, it didn’t take long for the god of self to establish its throne of power in the heart of Cain.
© 1 John 3:11-12 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. NAS
I would never MURDER someone and I’m certain most Christians feel the same way. So WHY does God use Cain as an example of Christian “love?” Re-read the passage above and give extra weight to your consideration of these words, “we should love one another not as Cain, who was of the evil one.” You may not see it now, but this message addresses the very same problem that existed in the Corinthian church, which is selfishness. The antithesis to the Cain example is given in the remainder of the immediate text (below):
© 1 John 3:14-20 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who DOES NOT LOVE ABIDES IN DEATH. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 WE KNOW LOVE BY THIS that He laid down His life for us; AND WE OUGHT TO LAY DOWN OUR LIVES FOR THE BRETHREN. 17 But whoever has the world's goods, AND BEHOLDS HIS BROTHER IN NEED AND CLOSES HIS HEART AGAINST HIM, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word OR WITH TONGUE, but IN DEED AND TRUTH. 19 We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. NAS
Hating your brother is more than knocking him over the head with a rock, or killing him like Cain slew his brother Abel. Hatred is an attitude that puts the wants, desires, and needs of “self” before the needs of one’s brethren in Jesus. Christianity has become very much like Judaism in many ways, because the focus is more on what we’re NOT supposed to do, than on doing what is needed out of love.
The perfect love of God cannot continue to abide in someone who closes his or her heart off to the needs of others. Perfect love needs expression that is self-LESS. The only way to know that you have passed out of death and into eternal life is by the love you express in deed and truth. John says not to love with word OR WITH TONGUE. Perhaps this is the crux of the matter with the Corinthians; it is certainly plausible they equated their state of spirituality with copious demonstrations of tongues and interpretations, prophecy and knowledge.
Love is seen by our willingness to lay our life down for others and perfect love begins at home; it cares for the feelings of your wife FIRST; it yearns to satisfy the desire of your husband FIRST; it is proportionate to the effort and time spent with your children. Perfect love takes time to give your kids that extra goodnight hug, to play with them and become a child with them and be immersed in their world. Perfect love spends time listening to your teens and gives them a ride when you don’t “feel” like it.
Perfect love gives your wife the many hugs, touch, compliments, and many verbal thanks she wants, needs, and deserves all throughout the day… every day. Perfect love is taking time to pamper her with cards and simple things that tell her she matters. Perfect love is being sensitive to the signals she sends; it is those times when she asks about your day, and gets more than, “It was fine.” Perfect love is giving YOU to her, not just what you can earn or fix for her.
Honestly men, how often do we cuddle up to our sweethearts and dole out the affection? I know I can improve in this department and we can all step up to the plate and make the changes to insure they are secure and FEEL loved more. Even more, perfect love shows itself faithful and bears all things, loving her when she is having a struggle emotionally, without condescending, but making her feel important, and her feelings cherished and esteemed.
Several years ago, my wife and I attended a reunion of former church members. At this meeting I experienced God’s swift and decisive conviction upon my heart for doing EXACTLY the same thing the Corinthians were guilty of. I was so excited to see everyone I knew and liked in the past, in my haste, I sped right past a brother that extended his hand to greet me. I gave him a token, “Hi brother,” and moved right along.
Ordinarily I suppose this wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but it was the beginning of a long and difficult lesson on humility and caring for the less recognizable members of Christ’s body. We had parked our car and as my wife and I were walking toward the sanctuary, in the near distance I spotted a group of my former church peers consisting mostly of what I now refer to as the “spiritual elite.” They were the ones in positions of spiritual leadership, ministry, those who were popular. In a different environment they would be the cheerleaders, the jocks, the pep club leaders; you get the idea I’m sure.
As I scurried past the brother with the outstretched hand, suddenly the Lord spoke to me LOUD and clear, “Craig, YOU have a condescending spirit. Go back and spend time with that brother.” BAM! God nailed me; I was guilty, though I’m sure no one else heard His voice speaking to me. I returned to this precious brother, apologized for my insincerity and embarked on a friendship that has lasted many years, with someone whom I ordinarily would have barely acknowledged.
Just like that my life was immediately impacted and permanently changed. In that instant of time, I recognized I was guilty of being so self-absorbed I was actually to the point of neglecting the less noticeable members of the church. From that day onward, my eyes began to open and I discovered the most precious treasures imaginable in the hearts and lives of people that are rarely spoken to, but have the most depth, insight, maturity, sensitivity, vulnerability and transparency in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthian church is much more than their disharmonic use of tongues, (which is not unlike the practices of many charismatic churches today). He is concerned about the way they were closing their hearts and ignoring ambiguous and seemingly unimportant persons in the church. Reading between the lines, we can see an almost a ‘cultic hype’ the Corinthians had regarding the ‘prophetic’ utterances. They were venerating things like miraculous healing, utterances in strange tongues, and one’s ability to interpret the same. Paul’s grief is that the gospel of good news and reconciliation was crowded out and replaced by religious, charismatic pride.
In the context of 1 Corinthians 12:31-14:5 the apostle Paul is NOT teaching against the use of tongues because his entire epistle, particularly chapter fourteen, admonishes everyone to speak in tongues. In 14:5 he writes, “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”
Paul’s desired edification for each and every member of the Corinthian church; he even said he wished they all spoke in tongues. However, in the church, he instructs the use of tongues is for GROUP EDIFICATION.
The underlying thought through the love chapter (13) and moving into the “tongues” chapter (14) is that perfect love be the force behind EVERYTHING done IN THE CHURCH. Speaking in tongues is very important for individual edification; in fact, as this study progresses, it will become very clear that without tongues, implementing perfect love, in all of its characteristics qualities, is basically impossible. Yet in the church, Paul says he’d rather speaking five words with his mind than 10,000 words in tongues.
Below I have formatted a more literal rendering of what the Greek text uses as exceptionally strong language to convey the passion and desire of the apostle Paul. His longing, his purpose and ultimate goal was expressed regarding individual speaking in tongues.
© 1 Corinthians 14:4-5 “One who speaks in a tongue constructs a house for himself; but one who prophesies constructs a house for the church. 5 With this in mind, it is my active preference and intent you all spoke in tongues; yet increasingly, that you prophesy and greater is one who speaks something that is identifiable (by divine impulse; i.e. – to prophesy), than one who speaks in tongues, unless he unfolds the meaning of what is said (i.e. – interprets), so that the church may participate in the building process.”
When you combine 1 Corinthians 14:4a with 14:5a, this is how it sounds, “One who speaks in a tongue constructs a house for himself… with this in mind, it is my active preference and intent you all spoke in tongues.” When I first read the Greek construction it brought to mind many parallel scriptures about building a spiritual house for God, with Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone. One very simple example comes from 1 Corinthians 3:9-11.
© 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. 10 According to the grace of God, which was given to me, as a wise master builder, I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. NAS
In the WordStudy NT, Spiros Zodhiates says, “A house is a building to shelter people. When one is in public worship, the paramount concern must be how all the believers should be built up and not how someone or a small group may selfishly benefit by the public experience. In Christian worship the individual worshiper ought to be concerned how he or she can spiritually benefit others by what he or she does and says.”
The question of whether or not tongues are useful in a group setting is dependent entirely on an interpretation (i.e. – having its meaning thoroughly explained). If someone unfolds the meaning of what is said in tongues, his or her message is considered equal in weight or value to prophesying (for group edification). In fact, the evidence in the context suggests it is even preferable to have all speak in tongues, as long as its use (being interpreted) is for group edification. The reason for this conclusion is Paul’s mention of tongues and its beneficial importance for individual edification; the Amplified Bible says it nicely:
© 1 Corinthians 14:4a He who speaks in a strange tongue edifies and improves himself…AMP
How does speaking in tongues, “improve,” one’s self? The Greek word for, “edifies,” in 1 Corinthians 14:4a is oikodomeo (NT: 3618) and it means, “to be a house-builder, i.e. - to construct or to confirm.” This means when a person speaks in tongues, he or she is building or constructing the spiritual, “house” of God. The scripture teaches us the house of God is our spirit, aka our inner man, as in the verse below:
© 2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent, which is our house, is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. NAS
I hope you just had one of those, “Aha!” moments with me J. When I speak in tongues, though my mind is unfruitful and does not comprehend what I am saying, my human spirit DOES understand. I find this increasingly so since having become disabled and facing severe chronic pain. In my physical weakness contact in the spiritual is imperative or else I can easily succumb to depression, anger, and even suicidal ideation.
The human spirit is, “constructed,” as you articulate in the spirit (speaking in tongues), what only the spiritual mind comprehends. Anyone can speak in tongues if yielded to God the Father and His son Jesus. However, only the MATURE believer uses his or her prayer in tongues for the edification of others, with love as the motivation, and not seeking only the individual desire to be blessed by God. This is exercising one’s spiritual senses and partaking of solid food. Solid food is for the mature, which have had their spiritual senses trained through practice, to discern good from evil.
© Hebrews 5:13-14 For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness; of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action, for he is a mere infant, not able to talk yet! 14 But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law. ‘AMP.
How often do you pray in tongues? I first spoke in tongues about two weeks after I dedicated my life to God thru Jesus Christ and had such a powerful, euphoric feeling I was literally on a spiritual high for at least 6 months. I could not wait to be somewhere private so I was free to release this spiritual energy and allow God to fill me to capacity. Each time I prayed in the spirit I felt so alive and my spirit so charged my only desire was to share the good news with every willing soul that would listen! In spite of my many blunders and unbridled zeal, what happened during those early days in 1974 was precious beyond description and became the foundation for many more goods things to come.
When I finally began attending church, I was told, “Brother, you need to settle down and not be so emotional and excited.” This was hard to understand what I was supposed to tone down, since I had just experienced something so powerful it had set me free from drugs, hatred, lust and so many other vices that bound and held me captive to the devil all my life.
My sad admission is that, like so many believers, once I had “matured,” I became spiritually dull and lack luster, so to speak. I conceded much of my spiritual zeal to the god of religion and self-righteousness. I reveled in the glory days and became like the church in Sardis, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.”
I learned in church how to do what all the other “mature” and “older” Christians do; just shrivel up and wither away. In a few years’ time I became spiritually dull, apathetic, lazy and lukewarm. Now I was seasoned like everyone else that was “mature.” I stayed busy and plugged into ministry and did lots of spiritual activities, but inside my love life with God was ebbing out and I was becoming less and less sensitive to the spiritual dimension.
Being a Type A personality and running on adrenaline much of the time, it took some major physical infirmities to slow me down and allow God to hold me still, so I would return to my first love. Breaking my jaw in November of 1997 was the straw that broke this camel’s back. After three major jaw surgeries, soft tissue implants, orthotic jaw braces, my jaw was beyond repair.
This started me down the road less traveled; soon my love of talking and sharing with others was silenced by TMJ pain that screamed inside my head whenever I spoke. Scar tissue built up inside both TM joints, pressing on cranial nerves, and causing painful swelling at the insertion of the temporalis tendons, what most people call their, “temples.” It felt like pulsating, rhythmic jolts of pain whenever I spoke for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Even as I write these words, my head feels like it is being crushed between two invisible vice jaws.
For 6 years the only real joy and relationship I felt with the Lord was my time in the scriptures, and what minimal fellowship I shared with my beloved brethren and friends. My sweet wife has been with me, steady as a rock, and as gentle as angelic raindrops. Even with the spiritual and emotional support, I still began to slip in and out of severe bouts with depression. Many seemingly endless nights pass; still, I cannot sleep because of the pain and the doctors tell me they have no cure.
When I discovered this truth about perfect love, I saw in scripture the connection between communing with God in my spirit. When I’m alone, instead of using my intellect and reason, my prayer life is plugged back into the power source, and God is dumping the revelation and love for others in quantities too excessive to contain.
This fire inside of me just has to be shared with others. Granted I’m unable to use my jaw and vocalize my prayers as I did before the accident, but I still feel the pulse of my human spirit crying out and expressing the things I feel that would otherwise be inaudible.
© 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, 18 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also… I thank God I speak in tongues more than you all. NAS
I wished I could say I speak in tongues more than you all, but I can’t J. However, I DO speak in tongues MORE, and the results are amazing! When I speak in tongues it is MY HUMAN SPIRIT that prays! When I speak in tongues (in private), I’m becoming a spiritual, “house-builder.” The house I’m now building is my ETERNAL dwelling place. I have renewed hope because once this pain laden body of flesh is torn down the only thing left standing is the building I worked on in the spirit.
The spiritual house is the only one you will take with you to heaven, so doesn’t it make sense to keep adding rooms onto it, remodeling to accommodate more of Jesus? When I pray in the spirit, something transpires in the communication process between the Father, Jesus and me; it is something my intellect can’t fully explain. All I can tell you is that through the increased use of my private times speaking in tongues, God is bringing forth amazing results!
I’m finding myself peaceful in situations that normally would make me feel stressed or even angry. I’m drawing out of my innermost being living waters that help me live and move in perfect love.
Where patience is needed I find staying power beyond my own human capabilities. Where kindness is not expected but so desperately needed, I feel benevolence and compassion that seems divine; it takes the willing obedience I give, but there is dunamis power to express God’s perfect love to people that used to get under my skin.
Through a daily renewal of my spiritual speech (tongues) I am finding the Lord Jesus; he is expressing his Father’s heart through me in a living intercession, with warmth and tenderness. I am loving people with God’s perfect love more now that in all the past 30+ years of experiences combined!
It isn’t just my own experience I want to share, because God is not partial, and He wants each and every one of us to love with HIS love. My dear friend Matt has been overcome by the perfect love, and my close and trusted friend Ken is experiencing the same. I still struggle with the flesh, and so do the others, but there is a transformation occurring and I believe God wants each and every one of His children included.
The irony in all of this is that the trials, tribulations, and other struggles are more intense than ever before. It’s not like walking around in LaLa land and everything is just Hostess Twinkies. Perfect love totally incinerates the flesh, ego, and whatever else exalts itself against the Lord.
I have heard it those against speaking in tongues defend their position by stipulating ‘prophecy’ in 1 Corinthians 14:5 is, “greater” than tongues. However, the Greek word (meizon) translated as, “greater,” runs parallel to Jesus’ instruction about perfect love and parallel to Paul’s own conclusion on the greatness of perfect love. Below is a comparison of 14:5 with other passages that use meizon in the context of something “greater”; you are the judge what it means:
© 1 Corinthians 14:5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater (meizon) is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. NAS
© John 15:12-13 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater (meizon) love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” NAS
© Mark 12:31 "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater (meizon) than these." NAS
© 1 Corinthians 13:13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest (meizon) of these is love. NAS
With this detailed explanation about the use, misuse, and benefit of tongues, the application and meaning of Paul’s words in chapter thirteen is much more apparent. For example, in 1 Corinthians 13:1 it says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,” this simply strengthens the emphasis on LOVE; it does not negate the use of tongues.
Love is to be the primary consideration for every member of the body that speaks in tongues and perfect love is the primary goal and should be the only motive. The point of all this is simple; first, you must determine that serving the needs of others, motivated by the love of God, is your steadfast and immovable goal. Second, you MUST acknowledge, “Lord, I can’t love with perfect love unless YOU help me and give me what I need to do YOUR will.”
So tap into your power source, which is giving your spirit some spiritual mortar, lumber, and other building blocks by praying in tongues, all throughout every day. If you do, then your spirit is being constructed, prepared and edified for the original purpose God intended, which is to love. All you need after this is an opportunity to love, which begins at home, so there’s no shortage of needs!
Of course I’m not saying you should stop praying in English with your mind, because that would be tantamount to fanaticism. On the other hand, allow your tongues to be motivated by desire to love as your Father in heaven loves, to be “perfect” as He is perfect, asking Him to open doors, which He WILL gladly and lovingly do.
© 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. NAS
This passage of scripture should leave no room for doubt in your mind that when the “perfect comes” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is whenever, “love edifies,” and whenever a person, “loves God,” and is therefore, “known by Him.” Here’s a simple comparison, and the parallels are exact:
© 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. NAS
Below I have taken the parallel excerpts from 1 Corinthians chapter 8 and chapter 13, and lined then up next to each other. You will see that knowing God and being “known” by Him only occurs when you “love” God in a manner that “edifies” His people. This is ironclad proof that when the “perfect comes” is unmistakably the mature kind of love, not the selfish, immature and childish sort.
Also consider that knowledge without love makes a person arrogant. A more literal rendering of 1 Corinthians 8:1 reads, “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love constructs, as a house builder.” The Greek word for “edifies” in 8:1 is the same as in 14:4; it is oikodomeo (NT: 3618) and it means, “to be a house-builder, i.e. - to construct or to confirm.”
This means when a person LOVES, he or she is building or constructing the spiritual, “house” of God, just like earlier, when a person uses his or her speaking in tongues to edify others, it is also building God’s spiritual house.
COMPARISONS OF 1 Corinthians 13:8a, 9a, 10a, 12b, 13b with 8:1-3
© Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies
© For we know in part but love never fails
© If anyone supposes he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know
© When I was a child I used to reason as a child… when I became a man, I did away with childish things
© But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him
© But when the perfect comes… then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known
There is so much more to come; we have barely scratched the surface. Part three will be a bit more on the technical side, but I work very hard to make the content user friendly, and understandable on all levels. I pray that our heavenly Father inspires you to use both love and an increased prayer life to build His kingdom, and construct His house.
Links to the Entire "When the Perfect Comes” Series:
To Be Continued in Part 4