You should seek after love, and you should truly want to have the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
I will explain why. Those who have the gift of speaking in different languagesn are not speaking to people; they are speaking to God. No one understands them; they are speaking secret things through the Spirit.
But those who prophesy are speaking to people to give them strength, encouragement, and comfort.
The ones who speak in different languages are helping only themselves, but those who prophesy are helping the whole church.
I wish all of you had the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages, but more, I wish you would prophesy. Those who prophesy are greater than those who can only speak in different languages -- unless someone is there who can explain what is said so that the whole church can be helped.
Brothers and sisters, will it help you if I come to you speaking in different languages? No! It will help you only if I bring you a new truth or some new knowledge, or prophecy, or teaching.
It is the same as with lifeless things that make sounds -- like a flute or a harp. If they do not make clear musical notes, you will not know what is being played.
And in a war, if the trumpet does not give a clear sound, who will prepare for battle?
It is the same with you. Unless you speak clearly with your tongue, no one can understand what you are saying. You will be talking into the air!
It may be true that there are all kinds of sounds in the world, and none is without meaning.
But unless I understand the meaning of what someone says to me, I will be a foreigner to him, and he will be a foreigner to me.
It is the same with you. Since you want spiritual gifts very much, seek most of all to have the gifts that help the church grow stronger.
The one who has the gift of speaking in a different language should pray for the gift to interpret what is spoken.
If I pray in a different language, my spirit is praying, but my mind does nothing.
So what should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
If you praise God with your spirit, those persons there without understanding cannot say amenn to your prayer of thanks, because they do not know what you are saying.
You may be thanking God in a good way, but the other person is not helped.
I thank God that I speak in different kinds of languages more than all of you.
But in the church meetings I would rather speak five words I understand in order to teach others than thousands of words in a different language.
Brothers and sisters, do not think like children. In evil things be like babies, but in your thinking you should be like adults.
It is written in the Scriptures: "With people who use strange words and foreign languages I will speak to these people. But even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord.
So the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages is a proof for those who do not believe, not for those who do believe. And prophecy is for people who believe, not for those who do not believe.
Suppose the whole church meets together and everyone speaks in different languages. If some people come in who do not understand or do not believe, they will say you are crazy.
But suppose everyone is prophesying and some people come in who do not believe or do not understand. If everyone is prophesying, their sin will be shown to them, and they will be judged by all that they hear.
The secret things in their hearts will be made known. So they will bow down and worship God saying, "Truly, God is with you."
So, brothers and sisters, what should you do? When you meet together, one person has a song, and another has a teaching. Another has a new truth from God. Another speaks in a different language, and another person interprets that language. The purpose of all these things should be to help the church grow strong.
When you meet together, if anyone speaks in a different language, it should be only two, or not more than three, who speak. They should speak one after the other, and someone else should interpret.
But if there is no interpreter, then those who speak in a different language should be quiet in the church meeting. They should speak only to themselves and to God.
Only two or three prophets should speak, and the others should judge what they say.
If a message from God comes to another person who is sitting, the first speaker should stop.
You can all prophesy one after the other. In this way all the people can be taught and encouraged.
The spirits of prophets are under the control of the prophets themselves.
God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace. As is true in all the churches of God's people,
women should keep quiet in the church meetings. They are not allowed to speak, but they must yield to this rule as the law says.
If they want to learn something, they should ask their own husbands at home. It is shameful for a woman to speak in the church meeting.
Did God's teaching come from you? Or are you the only ones to whom it has come?
Those who think they are prophets or spiritual persons should understand that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.
Those who ignore this will be ignored by God.
So my brothers and sisters, you should truly want to prophesy. But do not stop people from using the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages.
But let everything be done in a right and orderly way.