Greetings In the Name of the Lord:
1 Corinthians 14:5 (NLT)
I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.
To say the church at large vastly misunderstands this verse, today would be an understatement. Some wrongly assume from this verse that Paul is saying that tongues are unspiritual and unnecessary. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Paul has, and will state further later in this chapter, that tongues are valuable in that they edify the one using them. Furthermore, here we see him saying that “I wish you could all speak in tongues…,” and he wishes that everyone could experience the incredible spiritual benefit that comes from this gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul is, one the other hand, saying that prophecy is more beneficial to entire church because in tongues the individual is strengthened but prophecy edifies all who hear it (Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 220-221). Now there is nothing wrong with the individual being edified as Paul states here. That is valuable, and let’s faces it, we could all use to be built up and encouraged. Yet with prophecy more people than just the individual are encouraged. How sad it is that with so many hurting people that we do not see more use of this gift in the local congregation. Even sadder is the idea that some church leaders restrict, or in some cases, forbid the use of the gift during services. The idea is that it will scare some people away. Really? A message from God that encourages, strengthens, and builds up people’s faith will scare them away? It would seem to me that this is something that people are looking for today. Perhaps we have done a poor job of explaining what this is in our services, but does that mean we should stop it from happening? Certainly not! We should be encouraging it; not discouraging it. If God gives you a word to strengthen the church let it fly! Take a step of faith and ask Him to use you to help the rest of the church.