“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1Cor 12:29-30).

Greek uses μή as a negative particle to introduce questions expecting a negative answer. Therefore, these rhetorical questions, obviously expecting the answer no, show that there is no one charism which all should expect to have. Significantly, this includes the gift of tongues. It is sad, however, that in some literature of the “Charismatic renewal movements,” the impression is given that everyone should expect to receive the gift of tongues, and they do these frequently based on a one-sided interpretation or understanding of 1Cor 14:5, where Paul says, “Now, I want you all to speak in tongues.” But this wish on Paul´s part is expressed in exactly the same way as his wish in 1Cor 7:7 that all might have the gift of celibacy: “I wish that all were as I myself am [that is a celibate].”

The Greek verb in both cases is θέλω and means to desire, to wish and to will. Often translated in English as “I want”, “I wish”, or “I will like.” In both 1Cor 14:5 and 1Cor 7:7 textual critics prefer to translate it as “I should like it if.” Such a wish expresses Paul´s esteem for these gifts, but in neither case does it imply a judgement on his part that everyone should have or should expect to receive these gifts. In fact, in 1Cor 7:7 the Apostle Paul added: “But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” This means that we are gifted differently or differently gifted, thus, no one gift is obligatorily and universally given to all. The θέλω of 1Cor 7:7 and 1Cor 14:5 helps in the rereading and appreciating the function of μή (used 7times) in 1Cor 12: 29-30.

Discern the gift(s) that you have, cherish it (them) and harness it (them) optimally for service in the community and good of the neighbours.