Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
1 Corinthians 14:1-12 (NRSV)
Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? It is the same way with lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves; if in a tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different kinds of sounds in the world, and nothing is without sound. If then I do not know the meaning of a sound, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.
All groups have jargon that is particular to their group, including Christians. To people who have had no or very limited exposure to Christianity, attending worship can be a little like Pentecost, where all were speaking but none could understand.
Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit, but Paul cautioned the Corinthians that it only built up the person unless an interpreter was present. Church is a place for all to come and know God, not just the “anointed” ones.
I really enjoyed the last part of this scripture according to The Message: “So if you speak in a way no one can understand, what’s the point of opening your mouth? There are many languages in the world and they all mean something to someone. But if I don’t understand the language, it’s not going to do me much good. It’s no different with you. Since you’re so eager to participate in what God is doing, why don’t you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?”
God, help us put our love for you into words. It is hard to explain your love to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Sometimes we have a hard time explaining to others just how much you mean to us. We love you. Amen.
Go with God.