Have you ever been in a church setting and heard people speak or sing out in a language you have never heard before?
They are simply speaking or singing out in ‘tongues’. This is a God given language available to ALL believers and a beautiful and powerful gift from God.
I started this series explaining all about this wonderful gift and how it can encourage and bless the church and the individual. I explored how we can use it, why we use it and how to get it.
How have you been getting on with this gift?
So, back to the latest gift in this series and the Interpretation of Tongues. It states in the bible;
“To another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” – 1 Corinthians 12:10
I want to explain what it means to have this gift, which is a separate gift from Speaking in Tongues, but it goes hand in hand with that gift.
The dictionary says that an interpretation is simply the action of explaining the meaning of something.
The bible is our first point of reference on anything to do with spiritual gifts and for an understanding of this gift, the bible tells us:
“If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.” – 1 Corinthians 14:27-28
This spiritual gift is the supernatural ability to understand and explain messages uttered in an unknown (heavenly) language and in this verse it explains that when somebody brings a tongue that there should be someone present who is able to interpret what has been said in the language of the hearers. This person would be hearing it as we do but then God would give them an interpretation of what has been spoken to convey to those present.
This verse makes the point that if there is nobody there who can interpret it is better to not bring it at all as it would be ‘wasted’ if people can’t understand what is being said and it won’t then have its intended purpose to encourage and bless the hearers.
This verse has to be read in the context of the time of writing, as back then one of the problems they experienced in the early churches in Corinth was that people were speaking tongues out in meetings with no interpreter present. The tongues speaker would then attract lots of attention but there would be no value to the words spoken and they were not beneficial to the meeting or the hearers.
“It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.” – 1 Corinthians 14:9
What could so easily happen then could possibly involve an element of showmanship and pride on the behalf of the person bringing the tongue, when the whole point of the gift is to encourage and bless others not to bring glory to oneself.
Depending on the sort of church you go to you will probably know whether there are people in the congregation that have this gift. You could always talk to your pastor or eldership if you are not sure.
The next verse on this gift encourages individuals to pray for the interpretation gift too;
“Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” – 1 Corinthians 14:13-14
So, it is possible to bring a tongue and then bring the interpretation of what you feel God is saying yourself!
As with all gifts we move through different stages of the gifting as we learn how to operate in it (like with most things in life). I will write more on the different stages of a gifting at the end of the series to help you know where you are and where to go to next.
Until next time I pray that you would continue to step out and be courageous in the giftings that God has given you to bless the world around you.
Keep being amazing, you world changers!
Not sure what your spiritual gifts are yet? Take this test to give helpful pointers: Spiritual Gift test (youth)