By Brooke Holt
“Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.” - 1 Corinthians 14:16-17
As Paul continues this instruction about speaking in tongues, he reiterates once again that corporate worship is not about the individual but about the community gathered before God. Rick Warren certainly embraced this teaching as he began his book, The Purpose Driven Life, with those very words: “It is not about you.” It is not about you! I don’t hesitate to repeat myself here because we all need to read those words and to understand those words. Far too often, we make everything about us, even our gatherings at the church on Sunday mornings.
Paul’s intent was to continue breaking through that egocentric approach to worship and the practice of spiritual gifts. Today’s verses are not just practical but very logical. If you are giving thanks to God through the speaking of tongues, then no one can join you in that thanksgiving; there is no corporate, there is just you. That person beside you is your brother or sister in Christ. You are to share this time of worship by drawing your hearts and minds together in thanking God. So, let’s be logical about this—give thanks in words and expressions that don’t confuse that brother or sister.
This huge emphasis on what is intelligible in the corporate setting provides that practical instruction on how to build up the body of Christ. Paul would call the Corinthians and you to walk into worship with these words ringing, “It is not about you,” but rather it’s about the larger church, about their edification and blessing.
And let’s be honest, it wouldn’t hurt to carry those words home and to work and to every place you go. How much more would God be glorified if Christians would stop focusing on themselves and start focusing on him and what it means to love one another and then invest in one another? I have often heard it said that Christians are the biggest hindrance to the kingdom of God.
Let those words sink in: “It is not about you.” How can believing those words transform your presence in worship, at home, in the boardroom, or in the grocery store? How can believing those words help you to faithfully build the kingdom of God? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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