Archive for February 13th, 2020

1 Corinthians 14:18-21

In 1 Corinthians 14:18-21 Paul again teaches us about the gifts of the Spirit. Paul is completely consistent in his emphasis on tongues being directed to God. Just in this chapter alone, he points out what we do with the gift of tongues: we pray, we sing, we bless, and we give thanks. All of these we do unto the Lord, not unto man, with the gift of tongues. But he also balances the impact on the church with that of the individual. He makes sure we know that the gift of tongues is an important gift for an individual and one that he not only uses, but highly appreciates. “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”

Paul saw great value in the gift of tongues for his own devotional life before the Lord but when he gathered with other Christians, his concern was to be a blessing, not with getting a blessing. “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. In the presence of the church, the focus is not on self and what the individual impact might be of speaking in tongues, but rather on the ability to build up and edify the body of Christ. Speaking in tongues for one’s self is not how the Spirit intends that gift to be used. In the church, it should only be heard if it is interpreted.

The Corinthian church us misusing the gift of tongues. It was more about showing off how spiritual they were in front of each other than anything else. Paul calls them to account. “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” They were demonstrating their selfish desire to edify themselves at the expense of others in the meeting, so the Corinthians showed themselves to be children, and selfishly immature. Paul points them to a higher call. He tells them that tongues are not to be used that way in the church. It’s not a measure of anything spiritually.

Paul here quotes from Isaiah 28:11-12. In Isaiah 28, the prophet Isaiah announces judgment to the people of Israel. They did not receive the word of the prophets who spoke to them in Hebrew, so now they will hear the voice of men with other tongues and other lips. The Assyrian invaders spoke a language the Israelites could not understand, and it was an example of judgment to the Israelites. “In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” So God uses tongues in many different ways. But in all cases, He alone is in control of who, what, when, where, how and why. They are never to be something we force or attempt to manufacture.

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