The tongue is a powerful force. After all, God ‘spoke’ the world into existence. Satan spoke sin and the fall into Adam & Eve’s life. Our tongue has more power than anything else. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Prov 18:21)
So I find it fascinating that God chose the tongue to be the one thing that signified the indwelling of the Spirit. The first time the Spirit came upon the disciples, His power was displayed by the disciples speaking in the native tongues of the others present. Then the first time that Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, they too displayed the speaking of tongues as a sign that even Gentiles could receive the Spirit. However, some that over emphasize this one particular spiritual gift over others seem to miss the fact that thousands upon thousands received the Spirit without a sign of speaking in tongues.
Not just now, thousands of years later, but even then in the first century church, this over emphasis was common. So much so that Paul addressed it multiple times. The churches in Corinth were trying to make this some sort of litmus test for the Spirit. As a result, they believed if you could not speak in tongues, you did not have the spirit. Then and now, this causes people to seek one gift, even pretend they have it when they don’t. Others even claim they can ‘teach’ you to have this gift. But a spiritual gift is one bestowed upon you by God and is to be used for His glory and not your own.
Paul did praise the gift of tongues but then said, “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Cor 14:19)
His point was that if speaking in tongues were truly a spiritual gift, then its purpose would be to lift others up and point them to God… and not to puff up the one speaking in tongues. When we use our tongue to lift others up and point them to Him, then we are using a powerful force He has given us. But if we use our tongue to puff ourselves up or tear others down, then we are nothing but noise. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor 13:1)
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