Be still and rest in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:20-25 (NRSV)
Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults. In the law it is written,
“By people of strange tongues
and by the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people;
yet even then they will not listen to me,”
says the Lord. Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all. After the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart are disclosed, that person will bow down before God and worship him, declaring, “God is really among you.”
This passage comes in the middle of Paul’s much longer discussion of the relative merits of two gifts: prophecy and tongues. The first, Paul indicates, is the more important of the two, because it leads to the instruction of believers as well as seekers. Paul admits also to having the gift of tongues, that is, the ability to speak in an unknown tongue under what we might call the ecstasy of the Spirit. But he regards the latter as a gift intended for the individual believer as a means of personal spiritual enrichment, not as something to be flaunted in public.
Our verses begin with an intriguing command: “Do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.” While Jesus valued a childlike spirit among his followers, he did not call us to a childish ways of life. His call to disciples is a call to become adults in our thinking, in our study, in our ability to share our faith with others. The connection to the discussion about prophecy and tongues may be this: Those who need signs and wonders to bolster their faith are like children. Those who study to know and teach God’s way intelligibly are showing the kind of maturity God desires of us. Where do I need to put away more childish thinking in order to learn and teach others about God’s way?
O God, give me a teachable spirit that I may grow from childlike faith to true maturity in my discipleship. May I help one who is less mature to grow this day; through Jesus Christ, the master Teacher. Amen.
Go with God.