14:26 How is it then, brethren? 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. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
The picture is becoming clearer now of just how chaotic their worship gatherings had become. People were all talking at once. Some in languages that no one could understand, some prophesying, some singing, some sharing a revelation and it was all happening at once. They had clearly lost sight of what the gifts were for and Paul was trying to guide them back to that purpose. It almost sounds like a teacher trying to put some order into a classroom of exuberant students where everyone is trying to speak at once.
The purpose of gathering to worship is for the building up of the worshippers. God wants to reach our hearts through our heads. He wants our faith rooted in reason. He wants His children to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them. If God shares a prophetic message with someone it is for the purpose of making that message known to the whole church. How can that happen if everyone is talking or singing at the same time he is talking?
I may have a beautiful voice and a song to share but that doesn't give me the right to start singing it while someone else is talking nor do they have the right to start talking while I'm singing. It ruins the beneficial impact of both and turns music into noise and a message into confusion.
Paul ends by saying "God is not the author of confusion" and "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets". That may sound odd but here is what it means. A true prophet is in control of himself. God does not possess people. If He has something to say through someone it will be done in order. Why would God give three messages to be shared and then share them all at once so none of them are heard? Would God interrupt Himself? Would he make it so His own messages can't be understood because of competing voices? A prophet can wait until the song is ended.
As Paul said earlier in the chapter if a visitor walked into their worship he would conclude they are all crazy and walk back out. The gifts were clearly being abused and their purpose misunderstood. I often wonder if that is why the gifts are much more rare now. We couldn't or wouldn't use them properly so we lost them to a great degree.
Here is a somewhat encouraging thought. If your church has some internal problems you aren't alone. They had them way back at the beginning too and gifts and miracles didn't cure the problems. In Corinth it seemed to multiply the problems. Here's the deal. If we are not submissive to Christ nothing will solve our problems. He so wants to heal us which will improve our marriage, our relationships, our churches, everything. For that to happen we have to let Him be Lord and if we can't even be humble enough to be silent while someone else is talking how can we submit to Christ? Remember we are gifted to serve. Serve Christ and serve others. Joy will follow.