“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV)
The church in Corinth had many problems. The fact that they had all spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 1:7) didn’t keep them from making mistakes. Paul wrote the letter we know as 1 Corinthians to address those issues. In chapter 14, Paul deals with people who had spiritual gifts like prophecy, speaking in tongues, and interpreting tongues, who were causing confusion during services because of how they used those gifts.
#1: Order During Church Services
Order. This is what Paul tries to establish when explaining how everyone should use their God-given gifts during the services. Each person should speak in turns, one at a time. One should wait until the other one finished before speaking. If two or three had already spoken, the others should wait until the next meeting. Prophesies had to be examined. And so on.
God is a God of order. We can see that from the very first page of the Bible that tells of when He created the universe. The way He reveals Himself to us shows us how important it is that everything is done in an orderly fashion. As His children, we need to reflect His character and pursue order in our lives and the church, especially during services.
#2: God’s Gifts Are Meant to Benefit the Whole Church
Paul teaches the Corinthians that they should strive to conduct the church services in an orderly manner. And he gives them the first reason for that: God-given gifts are not meant for the individual’s benefit, but instead, the whole church should benefit from them. Paul says: “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26 NKJV). He also says: “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” (1 Corinthians 14:31 KJV).
Everything that is done during church services should be done with the purpose of edifying (building up), teaching, and comforting everyone, not only just a few. So, everyone should be able to listen to what is said and understand it. If more than one person is speaking at the same time, none of them will likely be understood.
We need to strive for order during church services and in everything we do so we can be used by God to bless our brothers and sisters and to reach unbelievers.
#3: Confusion and Disorder Don’t Honor God
When we read Paul’s detailed instructions, it is easy to imagine the confusion that was taking place in the Corinthians’ church services. Many people speaking at the same time. Some of them, speaking in different tongues, without an interpreter. Can you imagine walking into a scene like that?
Paul gives us an idea of what it would be like: “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” (1 Corinthians 14:23 KJV).
In practical terms, instead of honoring the Lord, that scene would make an unbeliever or a new believer disregard everything that God’s Spirit was doing. The Lord doesn’t force anyone to stop talking. So, the person needs to be wise and follow Paul’s instructions to maintain order, even if it means waiting for another moment to share what God has given them.
We need to keep in mind that our actions, especially during the services, need to edify the church and honor the Lord. If we should remain silent, so be it. God will prepare another moment for us to share what He has given us if that is His will.
#4: The Peace of God
Paul affirms that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV). So, there is yet another reason that makes him pursue order and avoid confusion in the services. He does it to show the peace that comes from God.
God is the author of peace. There is no true peace without Him. He imparts peace to us through the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, we see that peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit. The whole fruit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
Throughout our lives, the Spirit of God works in us to develop the character that makes us more and more like Jesus. When we avoid confusion and keep order, not only do we edify the church and honor God, but we also show peace, which is part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is developing in us.
Paul handled many problems in several different churches, as he recorded in his letters. Every church needs to learn from them. But when we think about the church in Corinth, we realize that their gifts were being wasted because they didn’t use them properly. Let’s keep that lesson in mind. Let’s remember that it is not about us. And let’s strive to use our gifts to build up, teach and comfort our brothers and sisters, to honor God, and to reflect God’s character to the world.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.