"Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject unto the prophets." (1 Corinthians 14:29-32)
There's a lot to this to be sure. Look at it all in the light of the last verse, though. The spirits of the prophets are subject to them. Verrry important.
I find that the baseline way of looking at life is that it's a gift from God. Life itself: the greatest gift God gives. One should never get beyond this substrate and undergirding fact: God did not have to create me. Had I not been created, I would not have the privilege of knowing God's saving grace, either. What I'm seeking to do here, is shed the same light on all things that go on in church. And as we all are taking part in this grand experiment of salvation, it behooves us to remain humble in order that no one be lifted up in pride based on a gift that is being...how can I say this, brandished. God wants to speak through His church, the Body of Christ. I find that a lot of the outlying and underused gifts of the Spirit are neglected because of the lack of humility in those who don't see that they're called to surrender the gift to see it's used to build up others and not make envious. Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was given (quote, unquote) to him. "Lest I should be exalted above measure." (2 Corinthians 12:7) When God shows you how lost you'd be without Him and His circumspection, anything resembling a "thorn in the flesh" should indeed be looked upon as a gift, stark as it may sound. Because when something as powerful as a prophecy is uttered by someone who has not taken the time to humble themselves as unto the Lord, they necessarily color the prophetic word with an ungodly tint. And it's that very thing that will prevent it from speaking to the heart and mind of any and everyone who hears it, regardless of station or standing before the Lord.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3)
"And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Till we all come in the unity of the faith...
Here, Paul is making a casting call. Calling out places and roles. And, he says, it's for one reason. To all become like Jesus—as like him as we possibly can prior to Heaven. Paul is acting as director or orchestrator, training our vision on the One whom we're living toward and toward whom all gifts flow and point. Also very important.
See, the Holy Spirit is gentle. He's oh so quiet and He makes no mistakes. Should a word of prophecy be spoken in church, we need to rest in Him and wait to find out how He would have us voice it to another—or if He even wants it spoken out at all. "If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by..." Paul is asking for accountability. If one person receives a vision or image that looks, for all intents and purposes, to be a prophecy, Paul asks that it stand the test of anyone else listening in. And should the Holy Spirit whisper an addendum (that's what susurrous means, "whisper-like") after the original speaker has voiced the vision, the person who heard the second word then gets the floor. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith." We are all meant to work in concert with one another.
"A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth." (Proverbs 17:8)
"The gifts of the prophets are subject unto the prophets." While I don't necessarily see myself as a "prophet", it doesn't mean God hasn't shown me "things to come" (see yesterday's post, part 3). If I had to pinpoint one gift I operate in above all others, it'd be that of dreams and interpretations. But this doesn't make me any more important than anyone else in my church. Nor does it do much to buoy me when I get disappointed for any number of garden-variety reasons (That's what worship and love and fellowship with God are for!). It's a gift plain and simple. Intended to bless, not just myself (as it has and continues to) but my brothers and sisters in Christ. And this is where things can get dicey. Any gift given, should the recipient not be inclined to press in to God, will—will lead them astray. Our gifts were never meant to be used outside the leading and also incubation of the Holy Spirit. I find that the church, for it to operate more fully in these fringe (right word?) spiritual gifts, must submit more to the Holy Spirit and learn from Him how they are supposed to work. Anything else is bound to leave the door open for trains of thought and strains of lies that will end in alienating Christians who aren't fully immersed in God's presence. I know that we would never want this to happen. Sad thing is, when we get out on the edge and begin brandishing our gifts to the neglect of the simple and joyous miracles of existence and salvation, the church cannot grow as the Father intends. And that's an understatement.
"Likwise, ye younger, submit youselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." (1 Peter 5:5-7)