Thursday of Epiphany 5 – I Corinthians 14:12b-20

12So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

 13Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.16Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say”Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

 20Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature

The old fellow looked at me across the table told me that I had been “educated beyond my intelligence.” We had been discussing the life of Jesus in Bible study and I had challenged some of the cherished notions which he had long held. I was young and perhaps a little too full of myself after a long time in seminary. We worked through it, together. He eventually became one my strongest advocates in that parish. But it wasn’t because I convinced him of my rectitude. It was because together we listened to and heeded the same Lord and were moved to service by the same Spirit.

Paul speaks of the role of the mind, intellect, or intelligence in the life of the Christian today. Our world prioritizes knowledge, calling it power. It is true that knowledge has worked tremendous benefits for humanity in the treatment of disease, technology, and so much more. But Paul notes for us that knowledge also needs a master. It should be said that knowledge has a master, always. But it is not always the same master. If the master of my knowledge is my own selfish desires, knowledge may be used to benefit me at the expense of others. In this way, knowledge has been used to do terrible things to people. Paul does not reject learning and the mind, but he does subject it to its proper master. He puts the intellect into the service of the Lord and His kingdom. It appears that some in the Corinthian community were rejecting the intellect, insisting that they prayed only in the Spirit as if that was not of the mind. Paul will have none of this. The rejection of the intellect, the denial of the mind is a denial of God’s gift. Turning off your brain when you come to the reading of Scripture, worship, or ministry is also a recipe to do some terrible things to people or at least leaving them vulnerable to the assaults of the wicked foe. Paul enjoins us to use our minds to communicate God’s love, speak the Good News in ways which are winsome and clear, and to build up God’s people. So do some thinking, learn something healthy and good, study God’s Word, or explore His creation. Your mind is a beautiful thing in service to the Lord.

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