Messages from God
1 So you must always want to love other people. Also, want very much to receive spiritual gifts from God. More than anything else, want to speak messages from God. 2 If someone speaks in a different language, he is speaking only to God. The people who hear him do not understand his message. God's Spirit is causing him to speak about secret things. It does not help people. 3 But if someone speaks a clear message from God, he helps the people who hear him. He helps them to become stronger as believers. He helps them to be happy and strong in their troubles. 4 Anyone who speaks in a different language only helps himself. But a person who speaks a message from God helps the believers in the church to become strong.
5 I would like all of you to speak in different kinds of languages. But even more, I want you to speak God's message clearly to people. Anyone who can speak a message from God is important in the church. He is more important than someone who speaks in different kinds of languages. That person only helps the church if someone can explain what he says. Only in that way will his message help the church to become stronger.
6 My Christian friends, if I come to visit you, then I want to help you. But if I speak to you in languages that you do not understand, that will not help you at all. I would need to explain to you what God has shown to me. I would need to help you to understand something. I would need to speak a clear message from God, or teach you something. Only that would help you. 7 Think about how people make music with flutes or harps. Those things are not alive. We have to use them to make clear sounds. If we do not use them properly, then nobody can recognize the music. 8 Soldiers will not prepare to fight unless they hear a clear sound from the trumpet.
9 It is the same for you. You must use your tongue to speak clearly. If not, nobody will understand what you are saying. You will only be speaking words into the air. 10 There are many different kinds of languages in this world. They all mean something to the people who speak them. 11 Perhaps somebody may speak to me in a language that I do not understand. Then we are like foreign people to each other. 12 So think about what is best for you. You really want the gifts that come from God's Spirit. Most of all, you should want the gifts that will help the whole church to become stronger.
13 So, if you speak a message in a different language, you should pray to God about it. Pray that you may be able to explain to people what the message means. 14 If I pray in a different language, only my spirit is praying. But I do not use my mind while I pray like that. 15 This is what I should do: I will not only pray with my spirit. I will also pray with my mind. I will sing to praise God with my spirit. And I will also do that with my mind. 16 If you are praising God only with your spirit, not everyone will understand. Believers who have not learned these things will not know what you are saying. They cannot agree and say ‘Amen’. 17 You may really be able to thank God very well in your spirit. But your words do not help those other believers to become strong.
18 I thank God that I speak in different kinds of languages more than all of you. 19 But when the church meets together, I want to help other believers and teach them. So I would rather say five words that people understand than thousands of words in a different language.
20 My Christian friends, do not continue to think like children think. Instead, think properly like men and women should think. The only way you should be like babies is to keep away from evil things. 21 This is written in the Bible:
‘I will send strangers to speak to my people.
They will speak my message to them in strange languages.
But even when I do this, my people will not listen to me.’
That is what the Lord God has said.
22 So the gift to speak in different languages is like a sign. It shows God's power to people who do not believe in him. It is not a sign to help believers. But the gift to speak clear messages from God shows his power to believers. It is not a sign for those people who do not believe.
23 Think about what happens when the whole church meets together. Perhaps some people come in who do not believe in God. Or perhaps they have not learned much about God. If all of you are speaking in strange languages, those visitors would not understand. They would say that you are all crazy! 24 But if all of you are speaking clear messages from God, a visitor will understand you. He may not believe in God. He may not have learned much about God. But he will hear God's message. He will understand that he has done wrong things. He will know that God will judge him. He will learn this from what all of you are saying. 25 The visitor's secret thoughts will become clear. As a result, he will bend down to the ground and he will worship God. He will say, ‘God is really here among you!’