Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
- 1 Corinthians 14:1-5
Before I left for our little vacation with the grandchildren, I watched two or three television shows on the local Christian channel and they seemed to run along the same vein – it is not necessary to be saved, but if you really want to learn from God and grow as a Christian, you NEED to speak in tongues.
The Scripture above does not state that, far from it. Just because the disciples spoke in tongues, it does not mean that speaking in tongues is the only way to grow as a Christian.
I would not deny the Holy Spirit if He wished for me to speak in tongues, but when asked about speaking in tongues, I have used a line from a live recording of Sandler and Young, an old vinyl that I once had. Tony Sandler was Belgian-born, and Ralph Young was a New Yorker. Young would say that Tony speaks in many languages fluently, and he speaks one language lousily.
The best of Sandler and Young, in my opinion, was the combination of I Believe (mostly sung by Sandler) with Ave Maria (mostly sung by Young). I have always wanted to do a duet of this combination with my wife, since she is the language learner in our family, until our younger son came along.
When I am just a dumb old farm boy from Mississippi, what would I be doing speaking in tongues when I hardly know good English?!?! Okay, maybe my grammar is passable some of the time, but…
But as I drove to Tennessee, I was wondering if the opportunity ever arose, would it truly be an edifying experience? What would the experience be like?
Then we arrived in Tennessee and our son, who was born in Germany, was taking a crash course in German on his phone, some new “app.” He took the mantle of his mother’s language skills, and he has learned several languages (even some dead ones), and he is still learning more. Because he is legally deaf, he had the phone’s volume really loud, and he practiced constantly. He would even answer our questions, said in English, with his answers in German. I love him dearly, but it got highly irritating.
I am not equating the gift of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues with our son’s behavior, but after two and a half weeks of switching from German to English and back, I am over the pondering of that spiritual gift. If God wants me to learn something, I am available and I make myself available to listen to what He has to say to me. He can speak in English, or He can speak in Heaven’s language, which I am sure we all know, unknowingly. Or God can put an idea into my head. But God also speaks to me very clearly by guiding me to one Bible verse or another, and the experience brings me to my knees.
But to return to the Scripture above, if I had a choice, I would gladly give up the speaking in tongues thing if I could prophesy and help others to know what God is saying in His Scriptures and what He wants the present generation to know. Rather than edifying myself, I want to edify others and prepare them for Christ’s return. I know that in my writing, I learn also.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.