Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 13-14, 1 Corinthians 14, Psalm 49
For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:13-19
Truth be told, I have always spent much more time throughout my life as a Christian with 1 Corinthians 12 talking about different gifts and how they are all valuable along with 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul says they are all of them are worthless without love. These tend to be far more focused on as sermon topics. It feels good to hear the statement that we are all valuable contributors to the kingdom in our different strengths and nobody would ever disagree with the power of love.
However, 1 Corinthians 14, that is a different story. I tended to skim over that one.
For the longest time, in my walk with Christ, I would hear other people talk about their gifting and say things along the lines of, “I don’t really have the gift of evangelism or discipleship. I feel that God has called me more to…” followed by all sorts of gifts that don’t involve actively sharing our faith with others. Many people would reference praying for others (but silently because I have never been good at praying out loud), generating financial resources that can be used for kingdom building purposes, just living my life in a God honoring way that will rub off on others, etc.
I bought into this quickly, because it was always far more comfortable for me to pray silently on occasion, make money and donate, “lead a good Christian life”, etc. Leave evangelism to those who have that gift! Maybe I am just not a mouth in the body of Christ, but more of a hand. All parts are necessary, right?
In first Corinthians 14 today we see Paul address this head on.
He doesn’t say, “Stop speaking in tongues because that is not a valuable gift.” He says, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.”
Whatever spiritual gifts you feel you have been blessed with, lean into those! Do those with extreme consistency and conviction. However, Paul suggests today that we should also be intentional about praying out loud, encouraging people, and sharing our faith with others in a way that they can actually internalize.
It is wonderful to pray every morning for your brother-in-law that God would open his heart, but you should also talk to him about the love of Christ.
It is great to be constantly lifting up that co-worker in prayer and asking that their heart would be open, but you should also invite them over for dinner, make a sincere effort to build a deeper relationship with them, and eventually invite them to visit a small group, church, or event where they could be exposed to Christianity in a tangible way.
Donating money to help overseas missionaries and praying for them constantly is fantastic! I have no doubt that they appreciate your support financially and through prayer. However, it is also important to take any opportunity possible to communicate with them how much you value the work they are doing whether and asking if there are any other ways you can support them. These interactions might be through Skype, email, letters, or however possible depending on the region of the world they are in. Whatever the method, words of encouragement are powerful!
Praying silently for a brother or sister in Christ to receive mental, emotional, or physical healing is a great thing to do, but don’t be afraid to lay hands on them as well and pray out loud. You have no idea what God might stir up in their heart as a result of your willingness to step out there and take a risk for the Kingdom of God.
I spent a large percentage of my life avoiding these types of activities. It was simply far more comfortable for me to pray silently, donate money, and go about my life without putting myself in a situation where I could feel the sting of rejection or perceived failure.
This doesn’t mean that you now go stand on a street corner with a sign, but rather that you are willing to put yourself out there for Jesus. Sometimes this might be a longer process. It might take a long time pursuing a genuine relationship with that co-worker that eventually gets to the point where you are able to share the gospel with them.
The problem with the concepts of evangelism, discipleship, and building genuine relationships, is we want them all to look like a single scene in a movie. We want the type of evangelism where someone goes from not believing in God all the way over to giving his or her life over to Christ in the midst of a 5-minute conversation where the gospel is shared. We want the scene to be set perfectly, the mood to be right, and the transformation to be obvious and complete!
Then we immediately discount ourselves as not having the ability to pull that off.
Real evangelism can take time. True discipleship is hard. Walking with fellow believers in an authentic, vulnerable, and spirit led way, is scary. Building stronger relationships to the point where you are able to go deeper in your faith together and be where you can be a tangible source of support and encouragement along their walk, is a process.
This isn’t Hollywood. We are not filming an hour and thirty-minute feel good movie targeted at Christians about a conversion story. This is life. It is ok if it takes time. Simply be willing and open to how the Spirit moves you to advance the plot.
Never allow yourself to believe the lie that you were simply not created to share with others. Don’t ever accept the attack that your voice will not be heard and that you will lack the right words to say. Reject the notion that you are not qualified, ill equipped, the wrong messenger, etc.
In the body of Christ, some of us are an eye, some an ear, some a foot or a hand…but we are all called to be a mouth from time to time. We are all called to use our voice for the good of others. This may take vastly different forms with all of us, but you were given a voice for the Kingdom.
Don’t be afraid to use it.
Thought to ponder
When was the last time I had the opportunity to pray over someone or with someone, be a source of encouragement, or share the gospel; but allowed fear and insecurity to cause me to hold back? Who is one person in my life that God is calling me to actively pursue for him?
Aaron, I think this post is so awesome. I remember conversations with you back in the time that you believed your job was just to live faithfully as a Christian and not say anything. And I think that’s how so many of us can be, either intentionally or not intentionally. I love that you do this blog. I love that you’re ministering to everyone in your life who has an interest, and teaching us to be marketplace missionaries. You’ve gained so much influence over the years and I love that you were using it to further the kingdom of God. And I love that you’re going to turn this into a book!