Interpret This!

Ever wonder just how someone could hear the same apparent gibberish you hear and start explaining it in English? That’s when the gift of interpretation of tongues occurs.

This gift is evidence of God wanting to speak directly to His people as a gathered group, rather than speaking to one at a time. All can hear the same message and choose how to respond.drawing of church

It is often given to reveal a mission or new assignment to a church. It also reveals God’s heart for the people, as in when the message given is one of approval, reassurance, and peace. I’ve never heard it used as a reprimand, but I’m sure that happens. I’m equally certain that when it does, God is using it for discipline, not condemnation. His discipline is based in love, and whom He loves, He disciplines (Hebrews 12:6). Please remember that discipline is not punishment, but guidance. It has the same root as disciple, one who follows the guidance of the master.

Can this gift be used wrongly? Absolutely. Like any speaking gift (prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom), it is prone to be spoken through our human emotional filters. I once heard an interpretation of tongues when the speaker stated that several of the leaders of communist countries were actually Christians, and she gave their names. I wonder if the speaker allowed her filters of longing to see the Gospel take root in these countries influence her interpretation.

open bibleHow about when there is a serious difference in length between the English and the other language? The crucial word here is interpretation, not translation. A translation pretty much follows the words while interpretation works with the meaning and essence. And, depending on the structure, some languages use more words to say something than others.

The first time I received the gift of interpretation of tongues was in a small church when I was about 24. I don’t recall asking for the gift, but there it was. A message in tongues was spoken, and I received English words in my mind to interpret it. Freaked me out! The pastor said repeatedly that someone who had never interpreted before was supposed to speak. He waited what seemed like forever as I gripped the pew in front of me and gasped for air while my heart pounded and I got shaky. Finally, I spoke a few sentences. The pastor later confirmed its accuracy. He had received the interpretation as well, but knew he wasn’t supposed to speak. Since then I’ve interpreted several times during church services.stained-glass knight

Giving interpretation is a lot like prophesying. I feel a stirring and then words come to my mind – usually only a phrase or sentence. I ask God if this is just for me or for the body. When I get the “go ahead”, I start speaking. Holy Spirit gives me more to say as I go along, and I have to be careful to stop when He stops providing words, or else I will say something that isn’t from Him. And that’s disobedience, not to mention embarrassing.

Interpretation of tongues – yet another way to bring heaven to earth.

This is part 14 of a series on warfare
part 1|This Means War!


part 3|Charge!

part 4|Swing That Sword!

part 5|Worship IS Warfare

part 6|Warring Through Worship

part 7|Fight With Powerful Gifts

part 8|Prophetic Swords

part 9|Comfort, Encourage, Strengthen

part 10|“Extra Special Perception”

part 11|Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

part 12|How’s Your Perception?

part 13|What Did You Say?

all illustrations courtesy of