If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Without love, life is noisy. It’s difficult to bear life without love. Life without love is annoying. Have you ever heard that one voice that you can hardly bear? Whether it’s shrill, difficult to understand, nonsensical, or offensive, it’s tiresome. Even if you try to listen, your patience runs thin quickly, and you walk away. Who wants to listen to something that just sounds like noise?
That’s what our lives are like without love: noisy. And I think many Christians live noisy lives. Some by choice, others by ignorance, some nearly constantly, others every now and then. When we choose to do life without love, it just doesn’t make sense. We can claim to be a follower of Christ, but if we don’t live out His love, all the claims we make about God and our relationship with Him are just noise. We don’t make sense, because we’re not speaking in the language of God.
It’s as if I was traveling to South Africa and someone asked where I was from. “USA,” I’d say. They’d assume I speak English, and they would likely start speaking English to me if possible, but what if I responded in a heavy German dialect? What if I threw in an English word every now and then so they’d think, “Well, perhaps I’m just misunderstanding all the other words. Maybe everything she’s saying is actually English, and the problem is the way I’m hearing it, not the way she’s saying it.” As I see the person isn’t really understanding what’s I’m saying, I get louder and a bit frustrated. My hands start moving quickly, and my speech quickens. My face reddens in irritation.
And all the time, I know I can speak English.
That’s what Christians do when they say they live a Christian life but they don’t live—or speak—God’s love. The other person gets confused and frustrated, and the Christian speaking tries to speak louder and faster to communicate and get the point across.
Unless we speak the language of God, we will not authentically represent Him. I’m not saying we can’t make any errors along the way. We’ll all miscommunicate sometimes as we’re sharing God’s love. He can still use what we’re offering, and He will when we offer it with humility. But humbly offering and boldly ignoring are two different things.
We have a choice: to love with God’s love or to make noise that is annoying. Noisy gongs and clanging cymbals aren’t easy to ignore, but people will try to escape them. We certainly can’t communicate well when sounding like them. And the thing is, we don’t have to try to sound like them. It’s not a sound we make because we’re doing something; it’s a sound we make because we’re not doing something. Sound by omission. Noise by omission. Leave God’s love out of your life, and noisy gongs and clanging cymbals are the result.
Dear God, I want to be intentional in the sound of my life. I want to honor You and point people to You in all that I do. I know that in order to reflect You, I must always love You and love others. Infuse my life with Your bold, unending love. I praise You and thank You.