Paul continues his talk about spiritual gifts and the necessity of order. Have you ever gone to a church that lets its members call out during service? I have attended a few and the times I have seen this occur it has been orderly. While people giving “a word” might not necessarily be able to dictate when they receive it, they do have control over when they share it.
26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
I have the last verse here highlighted in my bible. It has become my “divining rod” of how to handle the outburst of spiritual gifts. When we started studying this part of scripture, I had mentioned that the majority of people tend to shy away from this whole “spiritual gifts thing” because it freaks people out; it freaks me out a little too. However, Paul gives us a very useful principle to remember when experiencing spiritual gifts (both personally and as an outsider looking in): God is a God of peace, not confusion. The word used here for confusion is akatastasia while the word for peace is eirene; these words are practically opposites. Confusion here is defined as complete disorder and instability while peace is tranquility and unity. The point Paul is making is that if a spiritual gift is being used in a way that creates chaos, confusion, and instability, then it is being misused. If, on the other hand, its use is resulting in the edification, unity, and growth of the audience, then it is being used correctly.
This isn’t to mean that the hearers or audience will not be uncomfortable. In fact, Paul here is using words that generally make us feel uncomfortable: revelation, exhortation, and judgment. We must be careful not to confuse the meaning. Just because we feel a little uncomfortable or confronted by the use of spiritual gifts doesn’t mean they are being misused. The key factor here is how it affects the body of people in audience of its use. I’m sure people seemed a bit dumbfounded when water was turned into wine, when Jesus read the minds of the Pharisees, or even when Lazarus was raised from the dead. We cannot let the enemy get in our heads and twist our perception of what is happening.
Where is there chaos in your life? My wife and I have been applying this principle to our lives for some time now. It isn’t to mean that there aren’t times that things are scary, risky, or otherwise don’t make sense in human terms, but we follow the peace. It’s like constantly finding the pieces of our life that God has given us and where they exactly fit. Sometimes the picture isn’t clear and other times it looks like the wrong piece is in the wrong spot, however we know it fits because of the peace that comes from it an that nothing else fits. Sometimes the peace feels odd, as if there shouldn’t be a peace about it (like selling everything you own and moving to another country) that cannot be completely understood by another unless they have experienced it too. It is only with God in our lives that we can experience that type of peace. Anything else is just a temporary fix.