Job 4:1-5:27; 1 Corinthians 14:18-25; Psalms 37:34-40; Proverbs 13:1
NT: “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, in order to teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your thinking, but be infants in regard to evil and adult in your thinking… If, therefore, the whole church assembles together and all are speaking in tongues and people who are outsiders or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all are prophesying and some unbeliever or outsider comes in, he is convicted by all and is called to account by all. The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is really among you.”” (1 Corinthians 14:18-20, 23-25 CSB)
Paul made it very clear that he was not anti-speaking in tongues. He actually said that there were benefits to praying and praising in a spiritual language, and was glad that he spoke in tongues more than anyone. What Paul was against was the misuse of spiritual gifts – and I imagine that extended to any spiritual gift, not just the gift of tongues. The Corinthian church was immaturely treating spiritual gifts like toys. They were more excited in the gifts themselves than the intended purpose of the gifts. The Holy Spirit does not distribute gifts as toys for our enthrallment and entertainment. The Holy Spirit distributes gifts as tools to be used in effective ministry and to glorify God.
For the manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit to have full affect, there must be understanding. Praying and praising in our spiritual language is beneficial to a point, for with it we are able to pray and praise beyond our understanding – but how much more effective is it when the Holy Spirit then gives us understanding by interpreting to our spirit the words we have just released. On the Day of Pentecost, the gift of tongues that was given to the Apostles had its optimal affect because those words were understood by various people in the crowd… and because of that, they served as a sign to the unbelievers that God was doing something supernatural. Authentic prophecy is effective because there is immediate understanding among everyone present when the prophetic words are given. I qualify it as “authentic” prophecy, because there is such a thing as manufactured prophecy that causes confusion rather than understanding. There are people who just want the gift of prophecy, and in their desire for the gift above effective ministry, will just utter whatever comes to their mind and call it prophecy. True and authentic prophecy from the Holy Spirit will reveal secrets of the heart… it will resonate with the hearers and bring about conviction and convincing. It won’t bring about confusion and a lack of clarity.
The quantity of words spoken really isn’t that important. What is important is the quality of words spoken. Are the words accurate? Are the words precise? Are the words understandable and clear? While it is good to pursue spiritual gifts, “having” the gift is not the goal. Using the gift in a mature and purposeful way to minister to people and glorify God is the goal.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that through Your Holy Spirit, You distribute gifts to me for effective ministry. I thank You, that by being filled with the Holy Spirit, I can speak as an oracle of God… I can speak words of prophecy that can effectively encourage, edify, comfort, convict, and convince others and glorify You in the process. In my desire to use the tools You give me, help me to not be more enthralled by the gift itself than its intended purpose for others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.