1 Corinthians 14:12-14
Even so you, for as much as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church.…
I. IN DOING OUR BEST WE MUST HAVE THE BEST THING TO WORK AT. Industry, concentration, perseverance, etc., should not be wasted on inferior aims. Steel may be sharpened into tools for making tables and chairs, and into weapons of war.
1. Rivalry is condemned by the very illustration. When rivalry comes in at the door, Christianity flies out at the window. There can be no rivalry between the man who shapes the stones and him who makes them into a wall; no rivalry between him who works in stone and him who works in wood.
2. But absence of rivalry is not enough. Co-operation must be added. A house can only be built by several men each working according to his own particular handicraft. He who comprehends that his powers were given him in order to make his contribution to a far larger whole, is the man who will find all things marvellously working together with him. Lubricating influences pour in from everywhere. Friction diminishes.
3. The method of successful co-operation pointed out. It is not a Tower of Babel which we work at; but the Chinch of Christ, an institution which is for the highest good of everybody in the world. What can be more dreadful than that a Christian should use his place in the Christian company for self-aggrandisement? Some of the Christians in Corinth were acting as if a man employed to put up the walls of a building in which he and all the other workmen should afterwards dwell and be fed and clothed at the employer's expense were to take the stones away and try to put up a little private and unsocial house of his own. If we try to use Christ for worldly ends we are bound to fail; if we try rather to use the world for Christ we are bound to succeed. Let the perishing praise the perishing; we work, however obscurely, at a building that will endure when all Babel fabrics are in ruins.
II. HAVING THE BEST THING TO WORK AT, WE MUST DO OUR BEST. That Jesus who condemns rivalry, equally condemns indifference to excellence. That is a poor sort of contentment which has not some noble and elevating element mixed up with it. We are bound to be as good as we can be. We must not creep and loiter in the way of holy service. God's building goes on so slowly, and seems as yet so little more than a neighbourhood of fragments, just because the building is crowded up from age to age with loiterers and ornamental people. Their names are down in the list of workmen, but they do little or nothing. Indeed who is there that does anything like what he ought to do?
(D. Young, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.