For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. ~ Acts 10:46(a)
This passage of scripture marks the first time that the Gentiles (those who were non-Jews) had visible evidence of the Holy Spirit in biblical times. As you surely know, the original Christians (or Christ followers) were of course Jewish. And for a period of time after Jesus’ death and resurrection, there was serious debate in the Jewish community about how and if Gentiles could be accepted into the Christian faith.
God Himself demonstrated the veracity of the Gentile calling by pouring out His Holy Spirit on the Gentiles and allowing the sign of His Presence (speaking in tongues) to be seen openly. This meant that the Gentiles were accepted equally by God and that an entirely new era was beginning in the Christian church.
However, an important thing to note in this scripture is the fact that by speaking in tongues, the Gentiles were heard to be exalting God.
For most people, they consider ‘tongues’ to be some exotic unknown language (or gibberish) that people speak in some religious circles when people are openly worshiping God. In some circles, it is considered one of the surest signs that a person has received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
But consider when the Gentiles referenced in this scripture spoke in ‘tongues’ it was not in some unknown language. They spoke in a language that was clearly understood by Peter and his visitors, implying that it wasn’t exotic or unknown.
The key takeaway here is that tongues is not always meant to be understood in the same context as it is today. When the disciples were in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, they were heard to be speaking in various foreign languages while they were speaking ‘tongues’ as evidence to their audience that God was truly among them in that place. In this instance, the Gentiles spoke in tongues so as to be understood by the Jewish and so that they would understand they were to be accepted in the early Christian church on equal footing with the Jews.
So the next time you consider how God can enrich your spiritual life, consider asking Him to enrich your language as well, so that you can truly exalt Him through words much as these Gentiles (and the Jews before them) did.
Loving and honoring God is not just how you pray or how you worship, but choosing the words that will bring the most honor and glory to Him.
Pray that God will allow you to engage in your own personal version of ‘tongues’ to include melodious, harmonious and beautiful words, songs or lyrics that truly honor God. Because God can truly expand our knowledge in our own spoken ‘tongues’ that are special in worship to Him.