Growing up, I attended church two to three times a week and went to conventions and church camps with my grandmother. Anyone who grew up in church can tell you that there is a certain “religious speak” that this community can engage in. By the time I got to high school, I was well versed in religious words and phrases, and I would often use them when inviting my friends to our campus ministry meetings. Unfortunately, I was not a mature enough Christian to realize that my behavior was not drawing people to Christ; instead, I was alienating people from Christ.
- How have you discovered that your words or actions were distancing your loved ones or friends from Christ?
READ THE WORD: 1 CORINTHIANS 14:20-25 (ESV)
20 Brothers, do not be like 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.
- What specific advice did Paul give to the Corinthians (vs. 20)?
- Who did Paul say that the gift of tongues was intended to reach (vs. 22)? Which group was the gift of prophecy intended to reach (vs. 22)?
- When discussing the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues, Paul seemed to elevate one gift over the other (vs. 24). Which gift did Paul elevate and why?
- As believers, what should be our ultimate goal for nonbelievers (vs. 25)?
- In what ways do your words and deeds glorify God to others?
RESPOND TO GOD
The gift of tongues benefitted the Corinthian church as long as there were believers who could interpret the words that were spoken. Without interpretation of the gift of tongues, the Corinthian church would alienate or scare nonbelievers away from the Christian faith. The “proper use” of our spiritual gifts as believers is a sign of our maturity. The mature believer does not do things that will alienate nonbelievers from God, but will draw nonbelievers to God so that they will fall on their face and worship him. Do all for the glory of God!
- Ask God to reveal ways that you distract others from pursuing Christ.
- Pray that God would give you the desire to glorify him as you point other people to Christ.