“Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.” – 1 Cor 14:20 (NASB).
The first Corinthians 14 talks about the gift of tongues or speaking in tongues. The Apostle Paul explains that by the power of Holy Spirit, someone who has it will be talking to God only because other people will not be able to understand it, as it will all be mysterious (Verse 2). It seems like the believers in Corinth were so eager to have this special gift that Apostle Paul needed to address this issue deeper (Verse 12).
He encourages anyone who has it to pray for the ability to interpret it also. Because the person’s spirit is praying but he does not understand what he’s saying (Verse 13-14). Moreover, it does not strengthen other people who hear it (Verse 17). It strengthens the person who speaks it personally, but it is useless for the whole congregation. It’s sad that some believers, even churches, still boast on their abilities in this gift. Apostle Paul himself spoke in tongues more than others but he rather chose five understandable words to help others more than ten thousand words in an unknown language (Verse 19).
Paul used the word ‘children’ as an analogy to describe the behavior of the Corinthians towards this gift (Verse 20). They were encouraged to desire another special ability of the Spirit which is to prophesy. Because anyone who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them (Verse 3). The unbelievers or people who don’t understand will be convicted and called to account by the prophecy and it will lead them to repent and acknowledge the presence of God (Verse 24-25). On the contrary, when all people are speaking in tongues, the unbelievers or outsiders who enter will think they are insane (Verse 23).
It’s our human nature that we want to stand out from the crowd. We tend to be proud of having abilities no one or not many people possess. This would be a pitfall in a ministry. When we preach or teach or even write a reflection on scriptures like this, who exactly are we serving - the Lord, other people or our own pride? Are we still immature like children who want to show off our abilities? What do we seek when we wish for any spiritual gifts? Apostle Paul said, “…seek those that will strengthen the whole church”. May God help us all. Amen.
Reflection on 1 Corinthians 14:20-25 by Desire Litaay
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