I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
Thoughts for Today:Apparently, Paul is offering these instructions because there had been severe misuse of the gifts of the Spirit in the Corinthian Church. Some of the members were speaking in tongues at the wrong time or with the wrong motives. They were disrupting the assembly. Paul intended to provide these people (and the practice), with the proper guidance and perspective. Edification of the church is to be the primary goal, not selfish recognition.
However, Paul is not speaking of personal superiority in which one individual is greater than another. His meaning is simple: Since a non-translated tongue is unintelligible, it does not edify the church. On the other hand, if there is an interpretation, its usefulness increases to the degree it offers edification of the church.
So why would Paul say, "I want you all to speak in tongues"? I believe he was speaking about our private devotional use of tongues (Spirit-led prayer), rather than the public non-translated tongue of a foreign language. The first is available to all believers, the second is only constructive with an interpretation.
Questions to Ponder:Do you seek unhealthy recognition? Are you a constructive or disruptive influence upon your church?