Saturday, October 18, 2008

Speaking in Tongues

Earlier this year, a friend on my job expressed concern for me because I have not been given the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. He has been taught that all Christians need to be able to speak in tongues. So, naturally, he was concerned when he discovered that I have not been gifted with such abilities from the Holy Spirit. I appreciated his concern and his willingness to try to help me with something he believed to be essential to my walk with Christ. I often act in a similar way with believers who have not been baptized, do not worship with a local church, or do not pray or read the Bible on a regular basis. His concern was a sign that he cared about me and my relationship with Jesus.

In an effort to help me, my friend loaned me a book about the need for all Christians to speak in tongues. After reading it, I had to admit to my friend that I had not been persuaded. I pointed to the apostle Paul's inspired words: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?" (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). In the context, the apostle was asking rhetorical questions. The implied answer in each case was "No." He was making the point that each Christian is gifted in different ways. No one is self-sufficient in the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit has gifted each member of the church with different gifts so that we need each other and can help each other. God's church has been designed to be an interdependent group of people. We are not expected to have the same gifts. We are expected to use our gifts to strengthen each other in faith and love, because each of us has deficiencies.

Just as I did not buy into his argument, my friend did not fully accept mine. However, we remain good friends. He is a good man who wants to serve Christ with all of his heart. Perhaps some day we will see eye-to-eye on this issue, but until then we will continue to respect each other and remain good friends.


flyawaynet said...

I certainly realize this could be taken in the wrong way. I hope it won't, because I accepted your reasoning and verses... but immediately popped to my mind - Do you have any of the other gifts?
While the answer seems to be 'no' ALL don't have every gifts, it seems that ALL would have at least one.

Or at least be seeking one.
Paul said he 'would that we all prophesy'.

But I've been encouraging the kids in my Sunday School class to seek for whichever one has really stood out for them. I figure God can tell them which one to seek for.

Terry said...

Thanks for the question, FlyAwayNet. Yes, I have been gifted in other ways; and no, I was not offended by your question. I may post sometime soon about spiritual gifts again in order to explain more fully what I believe on the subject, but I wanted to deal with the question my friend brought up first. Thanks for reading!

Christy said...

It's good that you took your friend's concern as that, and not undue judgement. It's also good that you two remain friends even though his persuasion did not change your convictions. Too many times people part ways simply because they don't agree. That's a shame. Spiritual gifts are truly gifts and very personal. Just as I give a gift to someone, I give them something I hope will touch them personally. I wouldn't expect all of my friends to like the same gift. I believe God gives us our specific gifts because He knows us intimately and He knows what will work best with each of us individually. The subject of spiritual gifts, unfortunately, can cause division, which boggles my mind. If you share your spiritual gifts, as you said you might, then I'll be glad to share mine with you. I don't want to take away from this post, however, so I'll save it for a possible future response.

Terry said...

Thanks for the comment! I have been thinking about this subject for several months since my friend loaned the book to me. I have been a little reluctant to post on it, because I knew how divisive it could become. I plan on posting on why I believe the Spirit still gives spiritual gifts today, but I will wait a few days in order to be as coherent as possible. Also, I may find something written by someone else who makes the point better than I can make it. If so, I will either quote from it or link to it so that others can benefit from it.

As far as my gifts are concerned, my gifts are mentioned in Romans 12:6-8. They would include teaching, contributing to the needs of others, showing mercy, and encouraging. I recognize that my gifts are not spectacular, but as you mentioned, they seem to fit me. I may not excercize my gifts perfectly either, but I know that they would not be a part of my life without the influence of the Holy Spirit in my life. Thanks for the input, Christy!