1 Corinthians 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”
Loud noises are just that: noisy. They can be irritating, cause stress, and be generally obnoxious. For most people, they like peace and quiet. A lack of love can be just this: noisy. Like someone who plays an instrument badly, it is like a bad sounding brass or cymbal if not love.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. The sounds of angels are for lack of a better word: angelic. They are majestic, announcing the words of God. They brought good news that was sweeter than honey. They gave glad tidings. They advised to not fear. There is comfort in the voices of angels. This can also be with men. People can have sweet voices that are calming and soothing. When singing, people are thought to sound angelic in nature. When preachers preach, they can be thought to have the authority of God. Both humans and angels can proclaim, through words, a lot of power and spiritual wisdom.
But have not love. For all the sweet words and utterances that angels and men can make, this can be done with or without love. Love is so important to any relationship, whether it is an acquaintance, friend, or spouse. Love shows caring. Love is key as God is love. He is the author of love. He did, after all, send His Son to the cross in love He sent His Son to minister to us in love. He sent the Holy Spirit to us in love. God does what He does in love of us and for us.
I have become sounding brass. Brass is, of course, a metal. It is a light metal that, when hit, makes a hollow or empty sound. Paul, in this phrase, is comparing words without love to a hollow, empty sound. Not having meaning. Not having substance. Lacking in many ways. We need to watch our speech, too. If our words lack love, they are meaningless. They are empty. They are like nails on a chalk board. The irritating squeak of a chair. We need to make sure that our words have the love of God in them, there to build up and not tear down. Words that encourage and lift up, not discourage and bring low.
Or a clanging cymbal. A cymbal is a percussion instrument. When played correctly with the other parts of a drum set, it makes a beautiful sound. This is like words with love. When in the wrong hands, however, a cymbal becomes an obnoxious noise that detracts from a song. Without training or practice, an instrument is hollow noise that is non-sensible. It is just annoying and nothing more. That is words without love. Lovely words sound like beautiful music to the ears. Our words should sound more like a symphony and less like an ape banging on a drum.
Love is a beautiful thing. It is not a cliché that is seen on a card or heard on a commercial. God’s love is so amazing and we would do well to show that love to others. As we venture out in our day-to-day living, let us not only talk about the love of God, but be the love of God. Embody that which is the love of God. It may just brighten the day of those around us and become a contagious disease (in a good way).
Thank You for Your love. Your love is glorious. Your love is amazing. Help us to show Your love to others. Not just the people who are pleasant but those that are hard to love. Let us be a light in a dark world. Let us be a light that guides those to Your light. Help our words to have meaning and purpose. Help them to witness to those that need You most. Let our words be the action that is required to bring about salvation to those that do not know You, Lord.
In Your name we pray,