‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay!’2 Corinthians 4:7
I was born into a Pentecostal family, and it’s only fair to say that it was like being born into the Church. The blessings that follow are immense and I, in no way, am disregarding them. However, it followed with a certain pressure to constantly prove your spiritual standing. If you were born into similar circumstances, you would know what I am talking about. The pressure was so condemning and self-focused that I don’t hesitate to label it as demonic. Yes, you heard (rather read) me right. Anything that doesn’t focus on God is demonic. Period.
One of such pressures was to speak in tongues! For some unknown reason, to some churches, speaking in tongues and having received the Holy Spirit are mutually inclusive events. So, out of all the other gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, is mandatory to have. If you can’t speak in tongues, it implies that you don’t necessarily have the Holy Spirit. And THAT, my friends, caused me to struggle for a long time and have a skewed perspective about the Holy Spirit and more tragically, reject the gift of speaking in tongues.
First, I felt unworthy! Because I don’t have it, the Spirit probably considered me unworthy to receive a gift which is a mark of the Holy Spirit.
Second, it made me feel that I have to earn it by the righteousness of my own works, which doesn’t make sense because if I could earn it, then how is it a gift?
Third, the biggest issue of them all, it made me feel that I don’t have the Holy Spirit!
This was made worse by preachers (quite a few) preaching about how vital the gift of tongues is and claiming baseless statements about this gift of the Spirit and about all the things this gift offers you. You also might have come across a few statements like, ‘The language in heaven is going to be the language of the Spirit, so if you don’t have it, you supposedly can’t communicate with anyone’, or that ‘we need to pray in tongues so the devil can’t understand our prayers because he obviously can’t understand tongues’. The underlying point they would drive was that if a person hasn’t received the gift of tongues (or any gift of the Spirit), it’s because they have not overcome sin and that the Spirit finds them unworthy to dwell in.
If you are struggling with similar condemnation, let me tell you that you were marked with the promised Holy Spirit when you believed in Christ! (Ephesians 1:13)
And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy SpiritEphesians 1:13 (NET)
And regarding the distinction of receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, it is demonstrated in the lives of the disciples. The disciples received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them after His resurrection (John 20:22) which was quiet before the event of the Pentecost (Acts 2:3).
And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.John 20:22 (NET)
And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them.Acts 2:3 (NET)
Although I realized how conflicting their views with the truth were, the amount of hurt it had caused me made me, unfortunately, react in hurt. It’s important that we call a spade a spade, but I started to mock the preachers who would claim baseless statements and unknowingly, I was slowly rejecting the gift of tongues.
My liberation from this came when I was able to spend some meaningful time with two of my spiritual mentors who saw my struggle and nurtured my healing journey by revealing the Word to me. For the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (Romans 8:26) and as with Peter in Matthew 16:17, it’s only through Him the complete nature of the Trinity is revealed and we praise Him with words we know not of but that we speak in faith.
Like faith, whatever we do is a response, and speaking in tongues (or using any other spiritual gift) is just exercising in faith.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.Romans 8:26 (NET)
And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!Matthew 16:17 (NET)
Now I don’t know if the devil understands when we speak in other tongues or not, but I know that our Spirit understands the truth. The lens of truth broke the bondage created by hurt and I was redeemed from my own inhibition to open my mouth and speak in faith. It did not happen in an instant and I still struggle with it sometimes, and I have to be reminded that it’s a response in faith and not my might.
This article is not to tell you of how important the gift of tongues is, but rather the story of my redemption from the strongholds of deception in my mind. This experience drew me again to realize that all that we do in this supernatural relationship is respond! Everything that we do, be it, love, acts of righteousness, expressing in the gifts of the Spirit, or even faith, all of it is just a response.