1 Corinthians 14:13-25
13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 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. 21 In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
Ok I’ll admit it – I don’t get what Paul is driving at in this passage. On one hand he’s saying speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers and then he says they’ll think you’re crazy. Paul says that prophecy is for believers but then says unbelievers will be convicted of sin, fall on their knees and worship. Paul, what are you talking about?!
But it’s dawned on me…tongues is a powerful supernatural gift – given by the Holy Spirit. People may think it sounds crazy but will be unable to deny the powerful effects.
And a gift meant for believers (prophecy) can have a powerful impact on unbelievers. We may think prophetic words are for the church’s ears only but those yet saved need to be cut to the heart too, exposing and relieving only what God could know. Then they can receive His mercy and love and forgiveness and cleansing and peace and joy and hope.
Thanks Lord, for these powerful gifts of your Spirit – tongues and prophecy. Help me please to learn how to use them to help others receive your massive love. Amen.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen