Paul has been explaining to the Corinthians about spiritual gifts, and he showcases two in this reading: tongues and prophecy. Remember, choosing our gifts is not up to us. The Holy Spirit oversees that and will select the appropriate gift for each of us. We can certainly pray for gifts we hope for, but we may not always get what we want.
I have known people in my life with these gifts. I’ve experienced hearing people praying in tongues and have always been mesmerized by that, wishing I had the gift of interpretation to understand what the Spirit was saying. Wouldn’t it be cool to know what the Holy Spirit found important to pray about? Those must be some very powerful prayers!
For those praying in tongues, Paul says it’s mysterious yet encouraging and comforting. I can only imagine having words from the Holy Spirit coming out of my mouth would indeed give me a sense of awe that would also be comforting. The Spirit would know what to pray for when my feeble brain did not.
But Paul cautions us to be careful if we have the gift of tongues. It’s more a personal gift not to be flaunted. However, when in the company of someone who has the gift to interpret, then tongues become a gift that can benefit the whole community. I have never witnessed anyone with the gift of interpretation. Have you?
Paul would suggest that the gift of prophecy is the one we should be asking for. Why prophecy? Because it can benefit more people. Paul’s focus seems to be on community building. Who doesn’t want to have a word from God that will help clarify a situation or give counsel for the direction to come? A community can only be strengthened when there is clarity of God’s purpose.
Paul also sees prophecy as a gift that is a powerful tool for evangelism. As non-believers witness this gift in action, they can’t help but conclude that God is surely with these people. For those that are searching to find the truth, seeing God’s involvement with the people would be very attractive.
What do you take from this reading? Do you have either of these gifts or know someone who does?
Let’s pray …
Lord, thank you for how you have gifted me. I long to use my gifts in a way that brings honor to you and helps encourage and sustain the community of believers. You know I have asked for the gifts of tongues and interpretation before. In these uncertain times, I would also be thrilled to be gifted with prophecy, as Paul has suggested. I know your choice for me is perfect, I just had to ask. In Jesus’ name. Amen.