Bible, Main, Spiritual Gifts, Teaching, z29
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A secret purpose for the ‘gift of tongues’

Mural of a dam construction by William Gropper (1939). Photo: James Vaughan/Flickr/Creative Commons

The gift of tongues builds us up in the Lord. (Mural of a dam construction by William Gropper, 1939. Photo: James Vaughan/Flickr/Creative Commons)

With King Saul trying to kill him, David and his army had developed an uneasy alliance with the Philistines. For a few days, David and his army had joined the Philistines for some battles, but the Philistine commanders were wary of David’s loyalties and eventually asked him to return home.

But while David and his men were gone, scouts for the Amalekite army had discovered that other than for a few old men and young boys, David’s base at Ziklag was unguarded and launched a raid on the base.

When David and his men returned from what had turned into an utterly useless venture they found Ziklag burning and empty. Their wives and children hauled off into captivity.

David’s men immediately turned their anger and frustration on David. It was his dumb decision to join the Philistines that caused this mess. David had made a huge mistake.

But there was one thing that set King David apart — during times of stress and adversity he purposefully strengthened himself in the Lord.

Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Samuel 30:6 NASV)

I am not sure exactly how David did this, perhaps through prayer and praise but when he was done, David was ready to resume the battle.

With the gift of tongues, God has given believers the unique ability to strengthen themselves in the Lord during times of struggle and trials.

Paul writes,one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself;” (1 Corinthians 14:4 NASV)

The Greek word for edify was a term used to describe constructing a building.  Similarly, tongues is  a way for a person to build themselves up spiritually, just like David did after the Amalekites ransacked Ziklag.

Because tongues has the unique ability to edify, it is a gift perfectly tuned to help us during times of trials, struggles, difficulties and even temptation.

My wife mentioned to me a while back that when she finds herself struggling with worry that during those moments she will start speaking in tongues and many times it breaks the anxiety stronghold.

It is a win, win situation. Not only are you allowing God to pray into the situation that you are worrying about, but  you are strengthened spiritually in the process.

But Jude adds another thought to this discussion. In his one chapter book he writes:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. (Jude 20, 21 NASV)

He brings up the idea that “praying in the spirit” (tongues 1 Corinthians 14:14) not only builds us up, but connects it to keeping us in the love of God.

What an unusual idea — tongues also embeds and secures us in God’s love.

In his discussion on the end-times found in Matthew 24, Jesus warns:

12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12 NASV)

As we watch violence exploding around the world, lawlessness is obviously increasing. It is the spirit of the age. It brings with it a callousness and cynicism and even though we aren’t participating in the violence our hearts are affected by the ruthlessness ruling the world.

Our hearts grow cold.

In his apocalyptic vision of the end-times, the Apostle John writes a letter to seven churches. I suspect each church represented the various struggles believers would encounter during the end times.

In his letter to the Church at Ephesus, John applauds their good deeds, their fight against evil, their unwillingness to put up with heresy, their perseverance during difficult time, but then he gives this devastating analysis:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (Revelation 2:4 NASV)

They were doing all the right things, but with a cold heart. They had left their “first” love.

Are you struggling with thoughts that God no longer loves you? Then pray in tongues.

Are you struggling with loving someone at the church or perhaps even a family member or coworker? Then pray in tongues.

God gave us the gift of tongues to keep God’s love alive in our hearts. It is a vital gift in troublesome times.

More in this series:


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