God’s Word of Spiritual Renewal
1 Corinthians 14:1-25: In today’s reading, the apostle Paul discusses glossolalia, speaking in tongues. Paul argues in favor of prophecy (proclaiming God’s message) because prophecy edifies the community and serves the common good.
Those who proclaim God’s message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort.
More about Gifts from the Spirit
1It is love, then, that you should strive for. Set your hearts on spiritual gifts, especially the gift of proclaiming God's message. 2Those who speak in strange tongues do not speak to others but to God, because no one understands them. They are speaking secret truths by the power of the Spirit. 3But those who proclaim God's message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort. 4Those who speak in strange tongues help only themselves, but those who proclaim God's message help the whole church.
5I would like for all of you to speak in strange tongues; but I would rather that you had the gift of proclaiming God's message. For the person who proclaims God's message is of greater value than the one who speaks in strange tongues—unless there is someone present who can explain what is said, so that the whole church may be helped. 6So when I come to you, my friends, what use will I be to you if I speak in strange tongues? Not a bit, unless I bring you some revelation from God or some knowledge or some inspired message or some teaching.
7Take such lifeless musical instruments as the flute or the harp—how will anyone know the tune that is being played unless the notes are sounded distinctly? 8And if the one who plays the bugle does not sound a clear call, who will prepare for battle? 9In the same way, how will anyone understand what you are talking about if your message given in strange tongues is not clear? Your words will vanish in the air! 10There are many different languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11But if I do not know the language being spoken, those who use it will be foreigners to me and I will be a foreigner to them. 12Since you are eager to have the gifts of the Spirit, you must try above everything else to make greater use of those which help to build up the church.
13The person who speaks in strange tongues, then, must pray for the gift to explain what is said. 14For if I pray in this way, my spirit prays indeed, but my mind has no part in it. 15What should I do, then? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray also with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will sing also with my mind. 16When you give thanks to God in spirit only, how can ordinary people taking part in the meeting say “Amen” to your prayer of thanksgiving? They have no way of knowing what you are saying. 17Even if your prayer of thanks to God is quite good, other people are not helped at all.
18I thank God that I speak in strange tongues much more than any of you. 19But in church worship I would rather speak five words that can be understood, in order to teach others, than speak thousands of words in strange tongues.
20Do not be like children in your thinking, my friends; be children so far as evil is concerned, but be grown up in your thinking. 21 In the Scriptures it is written,
“By means of people speaking strange languages
I will speak to my people, says the Lord.
I will speak through lips of foreigners,
but even then my people will not listen to me.”
22So then, the gift of speaking in strange tongues is proof for unbelievers, not for believers, while the gift of proclaiming God's message is proof for believers, not for unbelievers.
23If, then, the whole church meets together and everyone starts speaking in strange tongues—and if some ordinary people or unbelievers come in, won't they say that you are all crazy? 24But if everyone is proclaiming God's message when some unbelievers or ordinary people come in, they will be convinced of their sin by what they hear. They will be judged by all they hear, 25their secret thoughts will be brought into the open, and they will bow down and worship God, confessing, “Truly God is here among you!”
What does Paul say about those who speak in strange tongues? Reread verse 5. Do you agree with Paul that “the person who proclaims God’s message is of greater value than the one who speaks in strange tongues”? Why or why not? Wherein is the value of speaking in tongues (see verses 5b, 13)? In what ways are your spiritual gifts used to build up the church?
Lord God, I am eager to have the gifts of the Spirit. Teach me how to use those gifts to build up your holy church. Guide my words and actions this day so that I may be a source of help, encouragement, and comfort to others. Amen.
Those in need of encouragement and comfort
Ezekiel 1:1—2:1: Ezekiel has a vision of God.