The Bible Edge
Everyone needs an Edge, Believers can have a Bible Edge
I Corinthians 14:1
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Who wants to be a preacher? Not many! Oh, they may want the preeminence, but not the inconvenience. Yet, Paul tells those in the church at Corinth that they should prioritize prophesying above any other spiritual gift, even over charity. They should follow after charity (showing forth love to those they do not know or are related) and desire spiritual gifts. But this thing of preaching, that is to be paramount.
But preachers don’t make much money. Preachers have no fun. Preachers are always “on call”. Preachers are faced with continual rejection, lack of popular social standing, have overly demanding congregations they must please; on and on the list could go. That’s true, all of it, but those temporary difficulties do not, cannot, surpass the wonderful life of a pastor. Having walked away from a high paying job that everyone was glad that I had, I have said often, “The pay in the ministry may not be great, but the benefits are out of this world.” Yes, they are! If I were to write all of the benefits that have come to me because of my job as a pastor it would take up pages and most would think I was lying about them.
But I digress. What does “prophesy” mean anyway? Today it is simply explaining the Scriptures in a way that others can benefit from understanding them. Nehemiah 8:8 declares perfectly what prophesying is all about. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. To do this takes learning, patience, wisdom and spiritual insight; few have the desire to develop these traits.
Spiritual gifts are vital to the work of God, but prophesy is the main thing. No one knows who coined the phrase “Keep the main thing the main thing,” but within the bounds of God’s work on earth in and through His local churches prophesying is the main thing. Paul sums up the importance of prophesying in Romans 10:14. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? This is how important prophesying is.
In the last chapter of I Thessalonians Paul is listing some things those in any church should do and some that they should not do. In chapter 5 he gives ten short, to the point commands of God. In I Thessalonians 5:10 God’s Word states: Despise not prophesyings. Today, many are in this camp. They despise true preaching, which is the forth telling of God’s Word. Few tolerate straight Bible based clearcut and easy to understand sermons. Even fewer desire to give straight Bible based clearcut and easy to understand sermons. Other spiritual gifts are more appealing to them.
Please do not misunderstand. Paul is not discouraging the use of spiritual gifts or displaying Christian charity. He is simply prioritizing the importance of prophesying.
William T. Howe, Ph.D.