Since I have been born-again by the grace of God in the year 1996, in God’s sovereign providence, I lived in both the circles—the tongues speakers and the non-tongues speakers. I wish in my heart to boast about their love and respect they have for each other in spite of the differences, but sadly that’s not the case. Instead, what I generally observed in both of them, though not all, is this—self-righteousness and other-accusation.
Hence, here is a word for them.
Dear brothers and sisters who speak in tongues, may I plead with you in Christ Jesus—do not look down on those who do not speak in tongues. To the church at Rome that had certain differences among them, Paul wrote, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves" (Rom. 12:10).
Based on what Paul said, do you become a better person than others just because you speak in tongues? If you speak in tongues, should you honor yourself above those who don’t speak in tongues? Walking in humility is a great sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit than just speaking in tongues. Sadly, there are many tongues speakers in the body of Christ but few humble walkers.
And do not suppose that those who do not speak in tongues do not have the Holy Spirit. Do not confuse the empowerment of the Holy Spirit with the indwelling of the Spirit of God. Every person who sincerely believes in Christ is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). The greatest sign of having the Spirit of God in an individual is not speaking in tongues but not living a life controlled by the sinful nature (Rom. 8:9).
Your non-tongues speaking brothers and sisters are loved by the Lord and are indwelt by the Spirit of God as much as you are loved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Of course, both need the power of the Holy Spirit for which both need to constantly seek God to empower them for effective witness (Acts 1:8).
Let me also be plain in saying this—just speaking in tongues is not a sign of spiritual maturity. You don’t become spiritual only by speaking in tongues. To the church at Corinth that was good in speaking in tongues, Paul wrote to them, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal" (1Cor. 13:1).
The church at Corinth was filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it immensely lacked maturity due to lack of love. A person can speak in tongues and still be carnal. The love of God in our hearts for people is the greatest sign of spiritual maturity. Without love for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how much an individual speaks in tongues, he is simply an irritating sound.
Therefore, may I encourage you to love and respect your non-tongues speaking brothers and sisters in Christ without despising them in your heart, words and actions.
Dear brothers and sisters who do not speak in tongues, may I urge you in Christ Jesus—do not despise those who speak in tongues. Do not mock at them and treat them with contempt. Do not put them off as if they don’t belong to the family of Christ. They belong to God through their faith in Christ Jesus just as you belong to God.
To the church at Rome where the folks disagreed on certain issues, Paul wrote, "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" (Rom. 15:7). Christ accepts an individual, not based on whether he speaks in tongues or does not speak in tongues, but based on his sincere faith in the complete atonement of what He had done on the cross for the sins of people. Don’t you suppose that should be our base too than petty doctrinal differences?
And do not consider speaking in tongues as something of the devil. Do not be quick in judging those speaking in tongues as being led by a demon. There is no evidence from the Scripture where people spoke in tongues by the devil. Such comments are unwise and do not manifest a proper biblical attitude.
You do have complete freedom not to believe in tongues, but be careful of taking the freedom to make unbiblical judgments and fall into the accusing trap of the devil.
What is certainly from the devil is bitter envy and self-boasting (Jas. 3:14-15). Moreover, people are never like the devil than when they walk in pride, feeling better about themselves and despising others. And this pride is found in every group, both in those who do not speak in tongues and in those who speak in tongues. There is a great need of humility for which all God’s people ought to pray and practice.
Let me also mention not to think of yourself as knowing the Holy Bible much better than those who speak in tongues. Do not shun them as emotional brats and consider yourselves as wise in the Word. Paul wrote that if we have all the knowledge but have no love, then we are nothing (1Cor. 13:2). The one who loves knows the Holy Bible much better than all those who possess great theological knowledge and sound doctrines but have no love for their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Love is the greatest sign of spiritual maturity, not mere knowledge. Of course, all have to grow in knowledge but not without love.
Therefore, love and respect your tongues speaking brothers and sisters in Christ without despising them in your heart, words and actions.
To speak in tongues and not to speak in tongues is a minor doctrinal difference; it is not an issue of sin. I say it is a minor doctrine because—whether you speak or do not speak in tongues, it has nothing to do with your salvation which was bought by Christ on the cross. You are not accepted in heaven based on this but only because of the finished work of Christ Jesus our Lord.
I think, had Paul lived in our age, perhaps he would have added "there are no tongues speakers and non-tongues speakers" to the following list—"Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col. 3:12-13).
You who speak in tongues and do not speak in tongues—are you clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience towards one another?
Finally, some speak about tongues as if this is the only worthwhile thing under the sun to do and some speak against tongues as if this is the only evil thing on the earth to disprove. On both sides, this seems to be a childish conduct and an immature mindset.
There is no clear indication from the Holy Scripture that speaking in tongues is a must for all people of all generations or that tongues have ceased with the death of Christ’s apostles. What all the Scriptures people take to defend each others’ belief is an assumption which is not completely based on the explicit evidence. It is a never-ending argument about which we do not have to fight at the cost of ruining our relationships [but this can be discussed in love without giving up on each other or accusing one another].
There are major doctrinal problems, like assaults on the trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the authority of the Holy Bible…etc—let’s fight against them. There are terrible sins in the church, like pride, envy, conflicts, selfish-ambition, sexual immorality, gossip, complacency…etc—let’s fight against them.
Let’s stay together in the things we agree and work together for the expansion of God’s holy kingdom and to pull down the strongholds of the enemy.
Think—if we have to live together only when we agree with each other in everything then no husband and wife can live together for more than few days. The church of Christ Jesus, which is the family of God, is no different from our family life.
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 15:5-6).
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