The Spiritual Discipline of the Good Word

The apostle Paul addresses the controversial and mysterious gift of speaking in unknown languages (or “tongues” as it is sometimes known). With this gift, states Paul, an interpretation is necessary, because without it, no one understands what is being said, and so the church cannot benefit.

In contrast, the gift of prophecy, which brings God’s message in a known language, requires no such interpretation, and so Paul prefers it. It is not that Paul is against
tongues. It’s just that he wants to prioritize practices that bring benefit to the community. This is the loving thing to do.

Speaking in an unknown language can be a deeply uplifting and empowering experience for the individual who does it. But, unless there is an interpretation, it benefits no one else. If we are motivated by love, then, we should prefer gifts that benefit others, rather than ones that only benefit ourselves. This does not only apply to this one gift, of course.

As followers of Christ, love should be the motivation behind every action, every interaction, and every attitude. When we place our own needs and desires over those of others, we violate the loving, self giving values of God’s Reign. But, when we seek to bring blessing to others first, then we embody the life-giving values of God’s Reign.

At the end of every worship gathering (in many traditions) there is a short “benediction” or “good word”. This is a word of blessing spoken over us as we go out to live our faith through the week. It is an empowering and encouraging word, and it teaches us to speak “good words” over others. Today, practice loving others by speaking “good words” to everyone you meet.

As you have blessed me with your love, O God, so I speak love and
blessing over others.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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