Being Understandable - 1 Corinthians 14:6-25

Being Understandable

My children have a knack for hearing what I tell them, but they look back like I am speaking a foreign language. Sometimes, it takes my wife to use words that are understandable to them so that they can put those words into practice. 

1 Corinthians 14:6-25
6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Paul continues to address speaking in tongues and prophecy. In this section, we can see that understanding is important for edification and building up the church. If someone speaks in tongues, there must be someone to interpret so that those around them may be built up and edified. Edification comes through the understanding of what is being said.

How can this be applied in our lives today? Many of us don’t speak in tongues, but if someone was, then there must be someone to interpret. Today, we can put this into practice by being clear and concise when we speak. We must speak Biblical truth that is understandable and edifying to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul calls us to strive to build up the church. How are we doing this with the words we speak?

Next, Paul tells us to worship with our spirit and with our minds. Here, our human spirit is the inner being that can be especially attuned to God. The mind is our understanding of this. Therefore, these two must be linked…the understanding and closeness of our hearts and inner being with God and with our understanding.

Then, the information that we speak and deliver to those around us should build them up. We do this by planting the seed, the seed of God’s Word. We can give someone information all day, but the person must actually receive it and plant it for the information to do any good for them. The information needs to be understandable by them and able to be grasped and applied. However, it also takes a willingness to receive for us to understand. Our hearts must be prepared and the soil plowed for the seed to take root. 

In everything we say, we must remember to speak in a way that is edifying to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are here to build up the church and encourage one another. We are reminded that what we share must be understood. If we are on the receiving end, we must ensure our hearts are prepared to receive. On Sunday mornings or during Bible studies, pray and settle your hearts so that you are attuned to what God is trying to tell you. Encourage those around you, and if you happen to be gifted with tongues or prophecy, ensure there is someone there to interpret. 

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