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
You got gifts onboard? We're going to talk about these gifts together today.
When it comes to the gift of tongues, the Bible speaks to three separate categories. The first category is natural languages that we find all over the world. That's what broke out in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. It wasn't so much speaking in an unknown tongue, but rather it was speaking in some known languages that God, by His Spirit, had given them the ability to speak.
If you go to Haiti, you better know how to speak Creole; otherwise you're just not going to be much help. You need to be able to speak the language. And I know people in Haiti to whom God has supernaturally given them the ability to understand that language without having to learn it the normal way. It's just been given to them as a gift.
Secondly, tongues is a private prayer language for when your normal language, English or Spanish or whatever it is for you, just isn't cutting it anymore to communicate your heart of love unto the Lord. This is where your mind and will are given over to the Lord and you begin to pray in the Spirit because you've just run out of words, you don't know what else to say, so you let the Spirit intercede through you and for you.
Thirdly, tongues is a language that needs an interpreter. Tongues are great, but they are way better with interpretation, and if you're speaking in tongues publicly then interpretation is necessary.
I remember going and speaking in Malaysia at a pastor's conference. When I arrived, they said, Here's your translator. And actually, there was such a strong contingency of pastors from Hong Kong and from Shanghai that it was translated from English into Malay, then into Mandarin, and then into Cantonese. And if that wouldn't have been the case, then everybody would have left confused, not getting it.
Whenever that private prayer language spills out into a corporate church setting, there had better be an interpreter there, too, so that everyone benefits and is blessed. That's how we honor the purpose of the gifts, which is love, so that not only ourselves, but the entire body of Christ is blessed by the gifts we have.
Prayer Lord Jesus,
Thank You for giving me gifts so that I can bless Your Church! Please put Your love more and more inside of me so that I can use these gifts for Your glory in my life and in the whole Church!