With the advent of modern technology, messages can be recorded in audio and video format and the availability of “live” webcast, God’s Word can be brought to the home via the internet. Some may be in beds of affliction and are too weak to come to church, they may be strengthed through following webcast services. Praise God for such access to His Word. And the intent focus on listening to God’s Word with prayer is vital for one’s spiritual growth.
The believers should seek to be strengthened in the faith by the hearing of the Word of God.
Romans 10:17-18 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
These words that are sounded forth must seek to reach the ears and the hearts of the listeners. In the Bible school, we are taught “pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation.” We may have good words from the Lord to be conveyed but if they are not clearly enunciated. It does not avail the hearers. Not only is the content of the message important but the words sounded forth should be able to reach the hearers’ ears and by the Spirit’s aid, bring conviction and instil faith in the hearts.
The Apostle Paul sought the believers in Corinth to focus on understanding the preaching and teaching of God’s Word for their spiritual strengthening and growth. The Word of God whether by revelation, knowledge imparted, of prophecy and of godly principles, is good for them when imbibed and assimilated for practical Christian living. But taking time in sessions where they would not understand what the speaker is speaking will not profit them. No doubt, it seemed quite impressive to see the speaker gesturing and speaking in a language unknown. It may be exciting to watch the display of such a gift for language.
A person speaking in an unknown tongue will not help to build up the spiritual life of others in the church unless there is proper interpretation. With interpretation, the amount of content conveyed would be reduced by half when there is a need for translation. Unless there is a grave need because the majority of the congregation needs interpretation to a language they would understand and the preacher is unable to do so in that language, an interpreter would benefit the congregation.
The gift of speaking in an unknown tongue or foreign language was much coveted after in the Corinthian church even though when such a one speaks, the others who do not speak that foreign language will not be able to understand. God knows what he speaks but it doesn’t really help others. The spirit’s gift is for the building up of God’s people. As such, it does not fulfil the God-given purpose!
There are two commands issued “follow” or “pursue” after charity with an earnest and fervent spirit to practice unconditional and sacrificial love coupled with the “desire” or “zeal for” exercising their spiritual gifts. The spiritual gifts were to be exercised with God’s love so that it will benefit the body. It is not to be selfishly directed to show off or to seek attention. The Apostle Paul was seeking to correct such anomaly in the Corinthian church so that the growth of the body will not be hindered.
The Apostle describes the Holy Spirit’s fruit in the believers’ life in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” He explains the believer who bears such fruit of the Spirit receives no condemnation whatsoever, there is no law to judge virtues but God’s commendation.
We have the technology of “Facetime” in recent days where video calls can be made between persons over distances. Distance is bridged when you can see “face to face” the person we are communicating in real-time. In the past, we may communicate only through audio calls where we can hear the voice but not see the face. In a sense, we miss out on the facial expression and bodily reactions in such a communication.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
The analogy of growing up from a child to a man is a process of transformation from immaturity to maturity. A grown up man will no longer do the childish things. The childish temper and ways are put away. He puts on a frame of maturation that comes with years of learning and training by his parents and teachers and mentors that come in life. It is a fitting description of the spiritual man growing to maturity.
The “perfect” refers here to the completion of the New Testament Scriptures with the writing of the last book, the Revelation by the Apostle John at the island of Patmos at around A.D. 90. It does not refer to Jesus Christ nor His first or second coming.