As I look at this passage, it strikes me that our spiritual gifts are a glimpse of what is to come when we reach heaven.
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (8-10)
The gifts that Paul mentions here are I suppose what you could call “imperfect gifts.” There are some gifts that I get the impression we will continue to use in heaven. I would guess that administration is one and serving is another. I would guess gifts of music would also still be around as well.
But prophesy is one gift that Paul says will pass away. Why won’t we need it in heaven? Because prophesy is essentially saying the words of God to others. But in heaven, we will all hear from God directly.
Tongues also will pass away. One thing that tongues helps us to do is to pray completely in accordance with the will of God. But in heaven, again, we will already know what the will of God is. Tongues in another form is used for declaring God to those of other languages. But in heaven, everyone will already know God, and not only that, will understand each other without any language barriers.
Knowledge as we have it is imperfect, especially our knowledge of God. There is so much about God we don’t know. But in heaven, we will come to know him as fully as an infinite God can be fully known.
And so all these gifts are glimpses of what we will have in heaven. That though to some degree we can hear from God now, we will hear him clearly in heaven. That though communication between others and God is possible now, in heaven, it will be possible to communicate perfectly. That though we know some things about God now, in heaven, we will know him much more fully.
Put another way,
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. (12)
Everything in life we see is a poor reflection of what heaven is. But when we see Jesus face to face, we will see him as he truly is, and we will see life as God truly intended for us from the very beginning.
I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope. Though this world can be miserable at times, we are merely seeing a dim reflection of the life we will have.
But things will not always be that way. So as we look at our gifts, and not only our gifts, but all the people and the creation around us, let us remember that these things are only dim reflections of the hope that we have. The hope that,
When he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)