7/30 1 Corinthians 14:27-28

27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.

For some strange reason, many churches today completely ignore or explain away this verse. The gift of tongues can become quite a divisive issue. If the church followed Paul's simple, inspired guideline, it would not be such a problem. Instead, you can walk into some churches today and hear a roar of almost everyone praying aloud in tongues. Paul clearly warns that this will sound like a group of foreigners to anyone who happens to attend. It doesn't build up the body of believers, which is the purpose of the gifts when we are together (1 Corinthians 14:4, 6-12).

Notice how the word "if" begins our verse today. Tongues are not necessary to a worship service. But if there are people who feel they must exercise that gift, limit the tongues to two or three persons, one at a time, and then only if someone can interpret. Otherwise, they can silently exercise that gift between themselves and God.

There is a variety of beliefs in the church regarding this gift. Some think the gifts are no longer functioning since we have the Bible. Others think everyone should have this gift. The Scriptures seem to indicate it can be the miraculous gift of speaking another's language (Acts 2:8). Another expression of the same gift is a heavenly language that is between your spirit and God in prayer (1 Corinthians 14:2). Paul's concern was that we be aware of how our gifts affect others. With the exception of a prayer language, all gifts should edify the believers (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Consider: When someone claims to have a gift of the Spirit but is being divisive and not edifying to the body of believers, the elders of the church should confront the person in love, using the Scriptures. Everything should be done decently and orderly (1 Corinthians 14:33). What is your gift? How are you helping to build up the believers where you worship?