Prophecy and Tongues
14 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Co 14:1–19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Church Family: Family Talent
Some people appear to try so hard to be different, to be unique, to be weird. I remember trying to be normal once. It was 7th grade. It didn’t work out so well for me.
You can ask anyone in my family. They didn’t know quite what to do with me as a child. I was the kid in left field (literally) at the ball game, spinning around and kicking dandelions, oblivious to the fact that my team was playing ball. Needless to say, I didn’t last long in baseball. I was the child who coordinated my siblings into making a “fort” out of blankets that covered three rooms of our house growing up. I may or may not have been in high school at that time. Sometimes I still think about doing things like that. If you have ever read the comic Calvin & Hobbes you have just a little bit of insight into what goes on inside my head.
Being different, having unique talents is not bad, but neither does it make you better than anyone else. The people in Corinth were so hooked on standing out and being different that they were missing the point of being the Church altogether. Whether you spoke in tongues or not was not the most important thing. Whether you could give prophecies or not, was not the most important thing. The most important aspect of any of these gifts of God was how they were being used. Were they used to benefit the individual showcasing them, or were they being put to work to love others and bring them closer to God. Paul was letting them know that if their gift was not building up the people of God, they ought to keep it to themselves.
Families work the same way. If you get an opportunity to sit back and watch another persons family you will begin to notice an invisible script that goes on between everyone where they either compete for attention or try to get out of the situation entirely. Big family gatherings can get pretty crazy rather quickly. Your aggressive personalities start calling the shots, your passive aggressive personalities become stone walls which inadvertently encourage the aggressives to focus their attention on them. Someone always gets left out. It’s the stuff that makes family sitcoms both funny and uncomfortable because the extremes they often portray we recognize in our own lives.
In the midst of all that though, Scripture asks the question: Who are you building up with all this? Who is benefiting from the roles we take and the talents we show? Many of us want to claim to be living in Christian families - and that is exactly what the Church is: one big Christian family. But would you call your home a church? If someone was looking in from the outside at your family, what would they say you worshiped? The first generation of Israelites and the first generation of Christians both had significant spiritual influence through their families, not just in places of public worship and that tradition continues today in the places the Church is growing the most.
Reflection: What activities in your family draw the whole family closer to God and should be encouraged? What activities draw your family away from God and should be discouraged or given a more appropriate priority?
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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