Once in a great while we get or possess something we just don’t know how to use. It may be a tool, a toy, or something else. Some of us will experiment with our new thing until we understand it, its purpose and its usefulness, and some will leave it unused and perhaps even ignored until it is better understood and its function, usefulness or benefit can be used.
In our text St. Paul addressed this very human penchant, but to me, at least, his emphasis isn’t on speaking in tongues (or not). Rather he focuses upon the reason behind God giving such gifts. In verse 19, we read: “In church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” For Saint Paul the emphasis was on sharing God’s Word wherever and whenever he could. As a simple country preacher this was my desired emphasis, too.
His focus on the job at hand was also Jesus’ emphasis. As His death approached, He prayed that if it were possible that that cup should pass from Him and He avoid a horrible death on a Roman cross; yet He submitted Himself to His Father’s will. Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, judged in a mockery of justice, and then be horribly murdered on a Roman cross to buy sinful humankind’s redemption. Jesus knew what to do with His life! Jesus understood why it was necessary for Him to offer His life as a ransom for many. He knew what to do!
As we consider and rejoice in the great gift of the Christmas and Epiphany season, I pray that we, too, will remember and rejoice in the fact that Jesus came to seek and save sinners. We know what this gift is. We have learned of its benefit and its usefulness. May we NEVER leave it ignored or unused. “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others….”
We pray: Help us always to remember why Jesus came into this world and what He accomplished. Enable us, by Your Spirit to share even five words to instruct others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.