1 Corinthians 13:1 - If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
This, of course, kicks off the apostle Paul's famous chapter on love in the New Testament. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels ..." This would certainly be an aspiration of Paul's—to speak with great eloquence and finesse when proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus. The thought here is that even if Paul's message was conveyed on the tongues of angels, even if this were the case but his acts of love were nonexistent, then his words are mere clamor and noise.
How profound this is! For one schooled in the Hebrew Scriptures and the rabbinic tradition as Paul was—to speak with authority, dismantling the myths of Greek tradition, and elucidating deep truths from the Old Testament on prophecies fulfilled in the Person and work of Jesus—to speak with the force and convincing power of an angel would be an ultimate gift from above.
But this was not what Paul had in mind when engaging his Corinthian brothers and sisters.
He says it in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."
As Paul traveled thousands of miles throughout the Mediterranean, speaking with individuals and churches about the redemption found in Jesus, it was as plain as day to him that love must rule; love must be the rule. Without it, everything else was just so many words—no matter how finely strung together they were.
There's a lesson in this for us today. In fact, there's great hope in this for us today. As we take time to study the Bible and reflect on God's Word, we find ourselves richly blessed by these endeavors. We may find, however, that translating this knowledge to real life can be difficult. God speaks to us in His Word, and we find strength in that. But we may find that strength ebbing away when the "rubber hits the road" and there is an actual opportunity to witness to our faith.
This would be a good time for love to step in. We're not called to have all the right answers and know every Scripture citation, but we are called to love. Love is expressed when we are there for others when it's inconvenient or costly or takes a lot of our time. This kind of engagement with another human being can have more impact on how they see Christ in you than your persuasive arguments and Bible references.
Certainly, we should be increasing capable in handling God's Word (see 2 Timothy 2:15), but we must also be sensitive to living out His Word in our lives. As Paul says again, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
"Jesus Christ and Him crucified"—the ultimate example of love.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, by Your Holy Spirit, teach us how to love so that our words and our witness match. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
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