This week we are focusing on the subject of speaking in tongues. We’ve talked about praying in tongues and we’ve touched on Paul’s discussion of wordless groans from Romans. We spent a great deal of time on this week’s episode of the Everyday Jesus podcast discussing this issue. If you haven’t listened to it, you can catch up now by clicking the play button below:
One of the more encouraging aspects of speaking in tongues is the fact that Paul says that tongues can be just as valuable as prophecy if the tongue is interpreted. So while tongues as a prayer language only edifies the speaker, when tongues are spoken in the church service and someone with the gift of interpretation is present and interprets what is said, tongues can be very powerful.
“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.”
1st Corinthians 14:1-5
As we discussed in the podcast, the gift of tongues is one of the lesser gifts and it’s mainly because I believe it’s primary use today is in the form of a prayer language. When used as a prayer language, it’s only edifying the speaker. But on the contrary, when tongues are spoken as Paul prescribes, one person at a time, and it’s interpreted, it can be extremely beneficial to the church.
Once, when I was in bible college, there was a student led prayer group on campus. As the students were praying one of the students spoke a message in tongues. In my bible college, there were students from all over the world that attended it. In this particular prayer group, there was a young man from Egypt there. The person speaking in tongues had an important message for this Egyptian man and he gave it to him in this man’s language and even in his dialect! The message was important information about his mother and how she had been been in an accident. She was hospitalized, but was going to survive, the speaker told this young man in his native tongue.
I was in our daily chapel when I first heard this story and I knew the students involved. The Egyptian man contacted his family after receiving this message in tongues and sure enough, it was true. This brought a sense of awe in the chapel when we heard this testimony. God truly cares about his children and language is no barrier for him.
Speaking in tongues should be used to edify or build up the church. It can build faith for those who speak and for those who hear. Speaking in tongues, far from being some hokey religious practice, can be quite useful in today’s church. Sometimes I feel like, as the world has gotten more and more advanced, we feel like we don’t need these gifts. We can simply go to Google Translate now and translate all types of languages. Who needs the gift of interpretation when we’ve got Google, right?
I believe that the world is much more supernatural than we believe. We have tried to make the world so plain and boring, but yet, we are standing on a spinning rock, suspended in space by nothing, traveling around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. It’s an amazing world and no matter what anyone tells you, we don’t have everything figured out. We don’t understand so many things. Don’t let technology damper your intrigue of the spiritual. Don’t let your iPhone distract you from the magic in the world.
God is alive. He is moving and working in the world today. Allow him to use you. This is what this series on Spiritual gifts is really all about. I want you to use your supernaturally empowered gifts to make a difference in this world. Don’t let a little magic scare you.
Here are links to our past posts in this series:
The Holy Spirit’s Intercession: Groanings too Deep for Words
Praying in Tongues: Out of Control?