“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” — 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
I don’t know about you, but every time I read these verses I have to ask myself this question. Am I a clanging cymbal? Then I check my standard of love against what God’s Word defines love to be:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV
Truth is, there are times I can’t vouch for myself and call myself a true envoy of these love definitions.
We think we know and understand the verses on love. If we’re honest enough we’d find our imperfect selves lagging. Especially when the human factors etch in. We’d find that in trying to love without employing the help of The Holy Spirit we get complacent after a while once our love for a person/people isn’t reciprocated; thinking love is something we must receive rather than freely give. We’d see that we really fall short when it comes to applying our knowledge.
I have fallen short in my strength. But I’m learning to lean on The Holy Spirit. As He searches and prunes me, from being a clanging cymbal. Here’s what He’s shown me:
– I have loved in patience but run out of loving patience after a while.
– I have loved in kindness but gotten upset when my loving kindness is taken for granted.
– I have loved without envy but held back my love the times it didn’t bring me goodwill when I needed it to, or if the people I loved seemingly showed that they loved others more than they did me.
– I have humbly loved but also wanted credit or some sort of gratitude or badge of honour from the people I loved to nurse my pride about loving them.
– I have loved with honor but also tried to define or put and expectation on the way the people I loved should love me in return.
– I have loved in calmness but instantly revoked it at the slightest anger I felt towards those I loved.
– I have loved without judgement but upon irritation, nitpicked and read out a list of previous wrong-doings done to me by the people I loved.
– I haven’t always protected, trusted, hoped and fully persevered for the people I loved.
– I have loved, but loved in part — and thus, failed — which isn’t love at all.
However, in spite of this failure, I confidently hope in what The Holy Spirit is doing.
He is presenting me with more opportunities to love beyond me. So even when I “fail”, He dusts me off immediately and enables me try again. And again. And again. As long as I do not give up, He enables me press into Him. And when I’m able to truly love how God wants me to, He gets the glory.
So if you can relate to being a clanging cymbal like me, the very fact that you’ve identified this is a step in the right direction. It’s literally because The Holy Spirit is present with you, ridding you of your former definition of love and wanting to show you how to truly love.
I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and brings us to repentance.
May God teach us how to love like He does. Amen.