I really enjoy watching young kids play sports.
One thing that always makes it entertaining is that when they are really young, there is always a few times where they don’t know exactly what they are supposed to be doing.
I remember watching a T-ball game where this little boy was trying so hard to hit the ball, but every time he just kept hitting the tee and knocking everything over.
3 times he tried, then finally he carefully lines up the bat rears back and BAM!
He hits that ball to the outfield.
He is so excited that he finally hit the ball that he takes off running, the wrong direction.
He runs from home to third and from third to second and on to first before he finally hears the coaches calling him back.
I remember watching a soccer game where this little girl was desperate to kick the ball and so when she finally got it, she kicked it the wrong direction.
A few years ago when Joseph was playing basketball, one of his teammates shot a perfect basket, into the wrong hoop.
All of these illustrate an important point.
When we don’t know the goal it is impossible to achieve it.
This is just as true in the Christian life.
If we don’t know the goal, if we don’t know why we are doing something, we will not be effective in our service for Christ!
When it comes to the use of spiritual gifts, it is vital that we know what we are meant to accomplish through them and we were are meant to serve.
In our passage Paul addresses who tongues were meant for as well as the limitations tongues have.
A spiritual gift is effective only as it is used correctly.
To use spiritual gifts correctly we must identify two areas of focus.
Using our gifts with a proper focus results in conviction and encouragement.
To use our gifts correctly we must identify two areas of focus.
Area of focus #1…
1. Know Your Who vv.
You should go say hi to your uncle _____.
That’s what my mom said to me.
Obviously she didn’t say blank because she knew who it was.
Not only did I have no idea who she was talking about, to this day I don’t even remember the name she said.
I looked around the room and had no clue who it was that I was supposed to go say hi to.
We eventually got it figured out and I met an uncle I had never met before!
The point is this, I couldn’t say hi to uncle so and so until I knew who that was.
Spiritually speaking, if we don’t know who we are trying to serve or who we are reaching out to, we cannot minister effectively to them!
I didn’t want to go say “hi uncle whoever” and have it be the wrong person!
Paul is telling the Corinthian believers that they have been trying to use their gifts to minister to the wrong people!
To use our gifts to the glory of God and the good of the church we have to know our who!
There are two actions we take to help us know our who.
a. Be prepared v. 20
“Brethren” is a word used to speak of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul uses it here to remind the Corinthians of who they are.
They are part of the body of Christ.
They are brothers and sisters.
He is also reminding them of his care for them because he is about to speak some hard truths.
“Do not be children in understanding”
This phrase is a present imperative which means Paul is telling them to discontinue something.
He wants them to stop being children in their understanding.
Understanding – φρήν (phrēn) understanding.
thinking n. — the process of using your mind to consider something carefully.
Noun, dative of respect, plural, feminine.
Understanding – φρήν (phrēn)
The way that those in the Corinthian church have been thinking is childish.
They have not been considering the purpose of spiritual gifts!
They have only been thinking of personal advancement.
Paul tells them to stop.
Stop thinking like children when it comes to the exercise of spiritual gifts.
Paul just said he’d rather speak 5 words with his understanding than 10,000 in an unknown tongue.
In order to talk like that, to speak with understanding, we need to grow our understanding.
We cannot use our gifts effectively if we are childish in our thinking!
How do we grow our understanding?
We get into the Word!
It is the Word of God that matures and grows us.
We must also remove hindrances.
What hinders us from gaining the understanding we need?
The deceptiveness of our own hearts.
“In malice be babes.”
Don’t be children in your understanding, but be infants in your malice.
Malice – κακία (kakia) wickedness; evil; malice.
depravity (perversion) n. — the perverting of virtue and moral principles from their purposes to evil ends.
Noun, dative of respect, singular, feminine.
Malice – κακία (kakia)
Again this is an imperative.
This is a command for believers!
Don’t embrace evil!
Don’t be cunning in your depravity!
When it comes to evil activities, we are to be innocent as babies.
Does that describe us?
How do we avoid being childish in our thinking?
We get into the Word.
How can we be infants in malice?
I want to look briefly at a few passages.
Go with me first to
How do we be infants in malice?
We are merciful, kind, meek, and patient!
We suffer long, we forgive as we have been forgiven!
We love with the love of Christ!
We embrace the peace of God in thanksgiving!
We must also confess regularly.
This has also been called keeping short accounts.
Sin thrives in darkness, drag it into the light!
Confess and pray.
1 John 1:9
Don’t just confess to one another, confess to God!
I think the most powerful thing we can do to be infants in our malice, to deal with the evil that resides in our own hearts is pray.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
In every situation and in every circumstance take your burdens, trials, and joys to the Lord!
Paul ends 1 Corinthians 14:20 by issuing a third command.