Greetings In the Name of the Lord:
1 Corinthians 14:2-4 (NLT)
2 For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. 3 But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.
4 A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.
Paul’s has previously expressed that love should be our prime objective, but that we should also seek after and long for spiritual gifts. Now he wants us to understand what our priority should be, and that is to strengthen and encourage others. His point here is that tongues edifies the individual, but prophesy edifies the body of Christ, the entire church. He clearly tells us that tongues are useful to the individual because it edifies, strengthen and encourages them. Some would have us believe that in doing so he belittling or making light of the gift of tongues, and nothing could be farther from the truth. He is in no way saying that speaking in tongues is self-centered and should be avoided. On the contrary, he is saying that they have their place, but that they are most useful in private prayer and praise. Anyone who thinks that he is speaking against the use of tongues needs to read the rest of the chapter (Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 219). However, what Paul is saying is that tongues is more beneficial for the entire church because it edifies and encourages everyone present and not just the speaker. In fact, Paul uses three words to express the usefulness of prophecy: strengthen, encourage, and comfort. All three words talk about the effect that they have on others. In a time of great discouragement in our society these are all things that are desperately needed. Who doesn’t need to be strengthened, encouraged, and comforted? Yet so little of it is seen in church these days. Why? We need it more than ever, but see it happening less and less. Part of the reason maybe that it has been discouraged because we have bought into the notion that this scares people away from the church. Really? Know anybody that doesn’t need an encouraging word from God? Another reason maybe that some say it is no longer available to the church. Well, we have already talked about that one, and until Jesus comes we will need strength, encouragement, and comfort. Another reason maybe that people are simple afraid to step out in faith and deliver a message in front of others. Yet, what a privilege it is to be used by God to help someone else. Let’s begin to pray, seek God, and say “here I am Lord, use me!”