14: 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
I was planning to start chapter 15 today but in rereading 14 before heading into 15 I felt compelled to address this last bit of instruction from Paul on the whole issue of self-obsessed chaos in the church. He says if anyone thinks God is gifting them and they have something that needs to be heard by the church let them acknowledge what I'm saying about the need for order. Let them see and understand that it is instruction from the Lord. Different English translations deal differently with the next sentence. It's a tricky word in the Greek but the idea Paul is trying to convey is 'If they ignore this instruction let them be ignored'.
Sounds harsh right? Dealing with people and being a leader is not always sunshine and rainbows. Consider this though. Satan's rebellion began with his unhappiness over God's order. Satan (Lucifer) had an exalted position but he decides it wasn't enough for him. He wanted more. Any group that is to be successful must have order. Each person must complete and stay within their given tasks. Chaos comes when the contractor doesn't maintain order and people on the job site either stop working or start putting their nose in someone else's job.
Here is the profound principle Paul is working from. God is a Good of order. He never changes. His ways are consistent. When he gives Paul a message for the church in Corinth to apply some structure and one or some won't cooperate guess what that means. God is either not leading them at all or they are in rebellion against His leading. They refuse to be team players. The same spirit that actuated Lucifer is controlling them.
His advice? Ignore them. If the group stands together in solidarity under the instruction of God that person will either come in line or leave. Both will be a success. Anything else will be a controversy.
Paul wraps it up by making clear he is not against the use of any gift, big or small. The point is there must be order in the body of Christ and rogue members can't be permitted to do as they please. Love has to be tough sometimes but tough love still has to be loving.