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.