Summary: This is the 2nd part in a two part sermon discussing the necessity of recognition or understanding in language (i.e. tongues) if the hearer is to benefit from what is said.

December 8, 2002 1 Corinthians 14:6-20

“I recognize that!” (pt. 2)


There was an art contest held in a local school one Christmas season a few years ago in East Texas. One of the prize winners was a picture drawn by a nine year old boy showing three men, offering gifts to the baby Jesus in his manger. What made the picture unique is how the three gift presenters arrived – there was a fire truck on the side of the picture. The principal asked the boy about his decision to draw the truck, and the boy, in his heavy East Texas accent, was quick to reply: “Well, the Bible says the wise men came from a-far.”

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about some companies that made some major communication errors when they began to market their products in overseas markets. After a woman sued McDonalds because she wasn’t warned her coffee was hot, it seems that companies are changing their instruction manuals and product warning labels to cover themsleves from product liability and to make sure that there is no possibility for a misunderstanding. Listen to a few of these:

On a bar of Dial soap- Directions: Use like regular soap;

Swanson frozen dinners- Suggestion: Defrost before eating;

Marks and Spencer bread pudding- Product will be hot after heating;

Rowenta Iron- Caution, do not iron clothes on body;

On a string of Chinese made Christmas lights- For indoor or outdoor use only;

Sainsbury peanuts warn- May contain peanuts;

On a swedish made chain saw- Do not stop chain with hand- call you stumpy for the rest of your life;

On a blanket from Taiwan- Not to be used as protection from a tornado;

On a motorcycle helmet mounted mirror- Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you;

New Zealand insect spray- This product not tested on animals;

On the bottle top of a flavored milk drink- After opening, keep upright.

As important as it is for companies to accurately and completely communicate with their customers, it is even more important that we accurately and completely communicate with each other. Without it, we can accomplish nothing, and we will be divided. Do you remember the tower of babble? What caused them to be unable to complete the tower and separate from one another? It was the confusion of the languages and that they could no longer speak so that the other person could understand them. Understanding is important. It is important for husbands and wives, parents and children, managers and employees, and it is especially important in churches where the greatest message of all is to be communicated.

Sometimes, that message is garbled because we are not speaking in terms that everyone can understand. People don’t recognize the words that we are using, and that prevents God’s power from working in people’s lives. Last week, we looked at three things that are prevented from happening when there is no recognition of words and no understanding of them.

1. Without recognition, there can be no profit. (vs. 6)

2. Without recognition, there can be no response. (vs. 7-9)

3. Without recognition, there can be no relationship. (vs. 10-12)

This week, we are going to look at three more results to communication that makes no sense to the hearers. As we go through this passage, ask yourself this question: Am I willing to change what I say or change the way that I say it in order to accurately communicate what I’m trying to say to the people that really need to hear?

4. Without recognition, there can be no wholeness. (vs. 13-15)

Paul is not trying to discourage the genuine use of the gift of tongues. But rather, he is trying to get them to use it properly. One of the clearest requirements was that whatever was spoken in tongues had to be interpreted. That means that if there was no one to interpret, then the tongues-speaker was to remain quiet. The only way he could be absolutely sure that an interpreter was present was if he – the speaker – also had the ability to interpret what he had spoken in a tongue.

A Preacher’s Prayer: “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I’ve said enough.” My prayer every day as I study these passages is not that I will know the truth but that I will know how to communicate it to you in understandable, interesting and convincing ways. Do you know how frustrating it is to have truth bottled up inside of you and not be able to get it out? I know that many of you pray for me. I thank you for that. Do you want to know how you can pray for me? Pray that I will understand and act out in my own life the Scripture that I am studying that week. But also pray that I will know the language that I will need to use in order to effectively communicate that message to you and the people around you. The reason that I use humor and stories and examples is not so that I can entertain you. I consider each of these to be a different language that someone out there can understand better than some other language, so I include them in order to increase the chances that all of you will be able to understand and act on the message. Pray that I will know what language I need in order to reach your heart.

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