Wednesday, February 26 - The Public Use of Tongues

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 14:1-9

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.’

Verse for Meditation: But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. – 1 Corinthians 14:19-20

Devotional: The primary message of 1 Corinthians 14 is correcting how the church was using tongues. It seems that the Corinthians valued the gift of tongues as a way to show off their spirituality. Paul sees this as an indication that they are acting like little children. He admonishes them to grow up and become spiritual adults.

The message is a simple one. Speaking in tongues out loud in church gatherings should not be done unless there is someone to interpret the message. This is for two main reasons: 1) Since people don’t understand the message, they are not built up or encouraged by it, and 2) It can actually cause confusion and be taken as a sign of judgment for unbelievers according to 1 Corinthians 14:20-25. This is NOT what the church should be doing because unbelievers and seekers should be offered the good news of the gospel and not a sign of judgment.

Spiritual gifts are tools that the Holy Spirit gives his church. If I use a screwdriver as a hammer it will not be very effective and it will take forever to build something! If I use a hammer as a screwdriver to build a house it will actually result in an unsafe structure. 1 Corinthians 14 is God’s way of giving instructions about how to best use the gifts of tongues and prophecy. When we use God’s gifts God’s way we will maximize their effectiveness for God’s kingdom.

Question to Consider: Consider the gifts that God has given you for your life. What does the Bible say about how you can use your gifts most effectively to glorify God?

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