Still making his point about speaking in plain language so people can benefit, Paul continues, “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian to me” (1 Corinthians 14: 10-11).
I have traveled outside this country and found it a little troubling when announcements in an airport or train station are made and I can’t understand a word they are saying. Is this a message that refers to my ride? I can’t tell what they are trying to say. They should be speaking in plain English (lol). That’s the very point Paul is making. In the church world, we should be speaking in a language others can understand.
He is spending enough time talking about this subject that it apparently was a problem in the Corinthian Church. Perhaps they had people all speaking in their prayer language all day and not winning anyone to the Lord or helping to disciple anyone. Whatever the issue, Paul clearly explains the solution: speak in the language of who is listening.
No one knows exactly how many languages or dialects are spoken in the world today. And how many have become extinct over the centuries? And what of angelic languages? We can only communicate within our language group.
Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not [agape love], I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal“. We must learn what it means to love people by caring about them enough to speak to them straight up in a language they can understand. I speak in tongues to God; I speak to my brothers and sisters in a language they can understand.
Tags: language, tongues
Raymond Ricci recalled that when he was General Manager of a Russian-American radio station in Moscow, they sometimes had to record bilingual commercials for advertisers. Once, when Billy Graham brought his crusade to Russia, he had an ad script that included the phrase, “The body is weak, but the spirit is strong.”
Raymond wrote the commercial out in English, and his secretary translated it into Russian. Later he asked his program director, Vasily, to review it. “We have a slight problem,” Vasily said, chuckling when he came to that phrase. “In Russian, it says, ‘He can’t stand up, but he has good vodka.'”
The communication principle here is that we have to communicate in the language of the hearer, but we have to listen in the language of the speaker. How many have innocently hurt another’s feelings by a poor choice of words. Let’s be careful with how we say things.
Tags: humor, language