Gift of Tongues

by Robert Morris

“I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”

1 Corinthians 14:5

The God I Never Knew

The gift of speaking in tongues is profitable and useful, but of the nine gifts of the Spirit this is the one Satan seems to oppose the most. Many believers can’t think about this gift without experiencing some confusion or doubt—and Satan has worked hard for that result. However, there’s one simple, important thing I’d like to note: The gift of tongues has been graciously given to us by the Holy Spirit. It begs the question: Why are so many Christians afraid of a gift from God?

There are actually two very different parts to this gift. One is the grace of a prayer language, which I will focus on tomorrow, and the other is the gift of tongues, which the Holy Spirit distributes “as He wills”
(1 Corinthians 12:11).

It’s important that we know the purpose of the gift of tongues. This gift is a message from God in a language unknown to the person through whom the message comes, and like the other gifts of the Spirit, it’s meant to edify the church. So if someone in a gathering of believers receives the gift of tongues, it is meant to benefit everyone at the gathering. However, all throughout 1 Corinthians 14, Paul gives us some rules.

In verse 26, he says a tongue must be interpreted by someone with the gift of interpretation of tongues (another of the declarative gifts). If someone bursts out with a message in tongues in the middle of a small gathering of believers and there is no interpretation, how can it benefit anyone? No one will know what the person is saying. And in verse 23, he instructs us to refrain from speaking in tongues when in the presence of unbelievers or those who are uninformed about this gift; otherwise, they might think we are out of our minds. These rules are not meant to constrict this gift; they are simply in place to make sure the church is edified.

I’d like to point out something interesting about these rules. They are written in the chapter following 1 Corinthians 13, which is all about love. We live in a lost and dying world, and I believe the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts so we can love and bless those around us.

Have you experienced any confusion or doubt about this particular gift? If so, I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to you about this wonderful gift from God. 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, reveal to me today any lies or misconceptions I’ve had about the gift of tongues. Show me the truth of this gift and how it can encourage the Church. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


For Further Study

  • 1 Corinthians 12:11
  • 1 Corinthians 12:14; Jude 20
1 Corinthians 12:111 Corinthians 12:14; Jude 20
Robert Morris
1 Corinthians 14:5