Some people believe that speaking in tongues is the least gift of the Holy Spirit. While the Bible has not made this conclusion anywhere, some verses make this claim look true.
Speaking in tongues is often perceived as a lesser gift for a number of reasons.
Reasons why People Believe Speaking in Tongues is a Lesser Gift
1. People Perceive Speaking in Tongues as a Lesser Gift because of its nature
The nature of the gift of speaking in tongues gives it a lesser image than other gifts. People who speak in tongues resemble drunkards.
Many times speaking in tongues is called gibberish. And it is not only non-believers who call it gibberish but also some believers.
The Bible acknowledges the fact that those who speak in tongues can hardly be differentiated with drunkards. On the day of Pentecost when the disciples of Jesus first spoke in tongues, the Bible tells us that some people who heard them mocked them thinking they were drunk.
It is sad that speaking in tongues is perceived as a lesser gift of the Spirit but that is how things are. What can we do?
2. People Perceive Speaking in Tongues as a Lesser Gift because of Some Scriptures
People perceive speaking in tongues as a lesser gift because of how Apostle Paul compared it to love and Prophecy in 1st Corinthians 13 and 14.
In my opinion, the passages in 1st Corinthians 13 and 14 are among the most misunderstood passages in the Bible. It baffles me how people can’t grasp the simple message about speaking in tongues in those passages.
In 1st Corinthians 13, Apostle Paul tells us that speaking in tongues without love is empty noise. I wonder how that translates to speaking in tongues is worthless.
Any gift of the Holy Spirit practiced without love is worthless. All the gifts of the Spirit are meant to bring out the fruit of the Spirit of which love is the greatest.
Wisdom is a gift of the Spirit and if it is practiced without love it is called craftiness. Speaking in tongues without love is empty noise. Prophecy without love is fortunetelling.
Just because Apostle Paul used speaking in tongues as an example when comparing gifts of the Spirit to the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t make speaking in tongues the least of the gifts.
3. People Perceive Speaking in Tongues as a Lesser Gift because many People Practice the Gift
People perceive speaking in tongues as a lesser gift because many people can practice it. I don’t think there is any gift of the Holy Spirit that is practiced by so many people as speaking in tongues.
Because speaking in tongues is an easy gift to receive and practice, people assume that it is a lesser gift. It is common for products that are high in supply to drop in value and this has affected the perceived value of speaking in tongues.
Other gifts of the Spirit such as performing miracles are rarely practiced which makes people assume they are greater than speaking in tongues.
Even the gift of interpreting tongues is perceived as being greater than speaking in tongues just because few people can interpret tongues. But interpreting tongues is lesser than speaking in tongues because if tongues are not spoken, they can’t be interpreted.
Why Speaking in Tongues is not the Least Gift of the Holy Spirit
1. Gifts of the Spirit have no Ranks
How can speaking in tongues be the least gift of the Holy Spirit yet there is no rank for the gifts of the Spirit?
I hope you remember the incident where the disciples of Jesus were arguing who among them was the greatest. What was the response of Jesus? Did He mention one of the disciples as the greatest in the Kingdom?
The same principle applies here; whatever God has created has the standards of God regardless of how low it may appear in the eyes of men.
Ranking is how men determine the value of one thing over another. But in the Kingdom of God, everything is unique in its way and it can’t be ranked.
Speaking in tongues is greater than prophecy when it comes to self-edification. Prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues when it comes to edifying the church.
Wisdom is greater than other gifts when it comes to becoming wealthy and living a long life.
Saying one gift is greater than another without specifying the context is nothing short of foolishness.
2. There is no Conclusion in the Bible that Speaking in Tongues is the Least Gift
Speaking in tongues suffers this fate because it was compared to love and prophecy. Any other gift could have suffered the same fate if it was compared to love. Love is greater than all gifts.
But despite speaking in tongues clearly being portrayed as a lesser gift, the Bible doesn’t make that conclusion. This confirms to us that gifts can’t be ranked.
The Bible tells us that gifts are different but it is the same Spirit working in all believers. All gifts of the Spirit are one with the Spirit of God. Is your shoe lesser than your watch just because it is worn on your foot and your watch worn on your wrist?
Speaking in tongues and other gifts of the Spirit operate on the same principle. Yes, your shoe will not tell you the time but neither will your watch shield your foot from mud.
3. No Gift is Lesser between Speaking in Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues
How can speaking in tongues be the least gift yet interpretation of tongues is a gift too and it depends on speaking in tongues?
Between a King who speaks a decree and a servant who interprets it, who is greater?
While interpretation of tongues is a gift that serves the gift of speaking in tongues, it is not any lesser than speaking in tongues.
We are told that there is no point of speaking in tongues if there is no interpretation because no one will understand and so no one will be edified except the one who speaks. Taking this route, we can see that interpretation of tongues is important.
But then there are times when we speak in tongues to edify ourselves and interpretation is not needed. In such circumstances, interpretation of tongues is of no value.
In fact, many times interpretation of tongues is not needed when people speak in tongues. Do you know how hectic it is to interpret tongues spoken for a minute? What about when someone speaks in tongues for an hour?
The Bible tells us that whoever speaks in tongues speaks to God and of course God doesn’t need an interpreter. This is in reference to a situation where interpretation of tongues is not needed.
Is Speaking in Tongues the Least Gift of the Holy Spirit?
Speaking in tongues is not the least gift of the Holy Spirit and no gift is the least. All gifts work together to help us bring out the fruit of the Spirit which is greater than all gifts.
Different situations require different gifts of the Spirit. A wise believer is one who strives to get all the gifts and use each of them in appropriate situations.
Be that wise believer.