Now, concerning what you wrote about the gifts from the Holy Spirit. I want you to know the truth about them, my friends.
You know that while you were still heathen, you were led astray in many ways to the worship of lifeless idols.
I want you to know that no one who is led by God's Spirit can say "A curse on Jesus!" and no one can confess "Jesus is Lord," without being guided by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them.
There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served.
There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service.
The Spirit's presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.
The Spirit gives one person a message full of wisdom, while to another person the same Spirit gives a message full of knowledge.
One and the same Spirit gives faith to one person, while to another person he gives the power to heal.
The Spirit gives one person the power to work miracles; to another, the gift of speaking God's message; and to yet another, the ability to tell the difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not. To one person he gives the ability to speak in strange tongues, and to another he gives the ability to explain what is said.
But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.
Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts.
In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink.
For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts.
If the foot were to say, "Because I am not a hand, I don't belong to the body," that would not keep it from being a part of the body.
And if the ear were to say, "Because I am not an eye, I don't belong to the body," that would not keep it from being a part of the body.
If the whole body were just an eye, how could it hear? And if it were only an ear, how could it smell?
As it is, however, God put every different part in the body just as he wanted it to be.
There would not be a body if it were all only one part!
As it is, there are many parts but one body.
So then, the eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" Nor can the head say to the feet, "Well, I don't need you!"
On the contrary, we cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker;
and those parts that we think aren't worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care; while the parts of the body which don't look very nice are treated with special modesty,
which the more beautiful parts do not need. God himself has put the body together in such a way as to give greater honor to those parts that need it.
And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another.
If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness.
All of you are Christ's body, and each one is a part of it.
In the church God has put all in place: in the first place apostles, in the second place prophets, and in the third place teachers; then those who perform miracles, followed by those who are given the power to heal or to help others or to direct them or to speak in strange tongues.
They are not all apostles or prophets or teachers. Not everyone has the power to work miracles
or to heal diseases or to speak in strange tongues or to explain what is said.
Set your hearts, then, on the more important gifts. Best of all, however, is the following way.
I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.
I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains - but if I have no love, I am nothing.
I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned - but if I have no love, this does me no good.
Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud;
love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs;
love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth.
Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass.
For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial;
but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.
When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am an adult, I have no more use for childish ways.
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete - as complete as God's knowledge of me.
Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.
It is love, then, that you should strive for. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts, especially the gift of proclaiming God's message.
Those who speak in strange tongues do not speak to others but to God, because no one understands them. They are speaking secret truths by the power of the Spirit.
But those who proclaim God's message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort.
Those who speak in strange tongues help only themselves, but those who proclaim God's message help the whole church.
I would like for all of you to speak in strange tongues; but I would rather that you had the gift of proclaiming God's message. For the person who proclaims God's message is of greater value than the one who speaks in strange tongues - unless there is someone present who can explain what is said, so that the whole church may be helped.
So when I come to you, my friends, what use will I be to you if I speak in strange tongues? Not a bit, unless I bring you some revelation from God or some knowledge or some inspired message or some teaching.
Take such lifeless musical instruments as the flute or the harp - how will anyone know the tune that is being played unless the notes are sounded distinctly?
And if the one who plays the bugle does not sound a clear call, who will prepare for battle?
In the same way, how will anyone understand what you are talking about if your message given in strange tongues is not clear? Your words will vanish in the air!
There are many different languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.
But if I do not know the language being spoken, those who use it will be foreigners to me and I will be a foreigner to them.
Since you are eager to have the gifts of the Spirit, you must try above everything else to make greater use of those which help to build up the church.
The person who speaks in strange tongues, then, must pray for the gift to explain what is said.
For if I pray in this way, my spirit prays indeed, but my mind has no part in it.
What should I do, then? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray also with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will sing also with my mind.
When you give thanks to God in spirit only, how can ordinary people taking part in the meeting say "Amen" to your prayer of thanksgiving? They have no way of knowing what you are saying.
Even if your prayer of thanks to God is quite good, other people are not helped at all.
I thank God that I speak in strange tongues much more than any of you.
But in church worship I would rather speak five words that can be understood, in order to teach others, than speak thousands of words in strange tongues.
Do not be like children in your thinking, my friends; be children so far as evil is concerned, but be grown up in your thinking.
In the Scriptures it is written, "By means of people speaking strange languages I will speak to my people, says the Lord. I will speak through lips of foreigners, but even then my people will not listen to me."
So then, the gift of speaking in strange tongues is proof for unbelievers, not for believers, while the gift of proclaiming God's message is proof for believers, not for unbelievers.
If, then, the whole church meets together and everyone starts speaking in strange tongues - and if some ordinary people or unbelievers come in, won't they say that you are all crazy?
But if everyone is proclaiming God's message when some unbelievers or ordinary people come in, they will be convinced of their sin by what they hear. They will be judged by all they hear,
their secret thoughts will be brought into the open, and they will bow down and worship God, confessing, "Truly God is here among you!"
This is what I mean, my friends. When you meet for worship, one person has a hymn, another a teaching, another a revelation from God, another a message in strange tongues, and still another the explanation of what is said. Everything must be of help to the church.
If someone is going to speak in strange tongues, two or three at the most should speak, one after the other, and someone else must explain what is being said.
But if no one is there who can explain, then the one who speaks in strange tongues must be quiet and speak only to himself and to God.
Two or three who are given God's message should speak, while the others are to judge what they say.
But if someone sitting in the meeting receives a message from God, the one who is speaking should stop.
All of you may proclaim God's message, one by one, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.
The gift of proclaiming God's message should be under the speaker's control,
because God does not want us to be in disorder but in harmony and peace. As in all the churches of God's people,
the women should keep quiet in the meetings. They are not allowed to speak; as the Jewish Law says, they must not be in charge.
If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is a disgraceful thing for a woman to speak in a church meeting.
Or could it be that the word of God came from you? Or are you the only ones to whom it came?
If anyone supposes he is God's messenger or has a spiritual gift, he must realize that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.
But if he does not pay attention to this, pay no attention to him.
So then, my friends, set your heart on proclaiming God's message, but do not forbid the speaking in strange tongues.
Everything must be done in a proper and orderly way.