By Chris Higgins
Over the years I have spent a lot of time studying the role of tongues or language in an effort to determine what exactly is meant when the gift of tongues is mentioned in Acts 2, as well as the writings of Paul.
I have had discussions with several folks who believe strongly that tongues was and is a special gift of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to communicate with God in a private prayer language. I have concluded that if there did exist such a gifting of the Holy Spirit to certain people, it was a first-century phenomenon. I am more prone to conclude that the tongues mentioned refers to known languages. I have decided, however, to remain open to other possibilities and consider those who conclude differently to be brothers and sisters in Christ.
They Said . . .
The larger issue for me is how we use the gift of language to bless others by what we say to them. As Jesus’ brother James reminds us many times in his letter, our words to others can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on what we say as well as the spirit in which we say it. Too often we in the church who are supposed to bless others with our words end up tearing down and discouraging with our tongues.
Some years ago a suicide note was left by a young lady who took her life. The note contained only two words: “They said . . .”
Grace and Salt
I have been asked many times why it seems that fellow believers, brothers and sisters in Christ, can say some of the most caustic, destructive things. Whereas those who do not claim to be Christians often seem, by comparison, to be gracious and uplifting. This observation has often been used by Christians to justify their lack of involvement or attendance in church. I don’t agree with using it as an excuse to avoid worship, but unfortunately there is truth to it.
The church of Jesus Christ should be the most encouraging and loving people around. Yes, we should use our tongues to speak the truth. But we need to be as concerned about speaking it in love “always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6).
Chris Higgins has been the pastor of First Church of Christ in Owosso, Michigan, since 2002. He and his wife, Lori, are parents to Daniel, Andrew, and Becca.