February 11 I Friday
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
When Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian church, he was writing to a church that had divisions within it. They had allowed the immorality of the city of Corinth to infiltrate into the church. Paul referred to the Corinthians as worldly, mere infants and immature. It was in this context that Paul talked about the different gifts that share the same source, and the different members who carry out different functions, but are part of the same body. He pointed them to “the most excellent way,” but before going there, he drew attention to three different types of believers with one common problem.
The first type of believer is the spiritually gifted person. Paul writes, “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.” This was a particular problem in the Corinthian church. A person could walk into their gatherings and many of them would be exercising the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. On the outside, it looked spiritual with conviction in their voice, but it was not making sense to anybody.
Paul’s concern is that when a spiritually gifted person elevates their spiritual gift, they are showing off. In other words, they are proclaiming things and others may look and be amazed at how spiritual they are, but it is disconnected from the heart of God—disconnected from His love.
A couple years ago, I remember an ice cream truck coming around my neighbourhood. Everybody perked up a bit, but as that truck drove down the street with its loudspeakers going, I heard what was being said through its speakers: “Repent and believe the good news of Jesus Christ. Put your faith in Him for the salvation of your soul or you will be eternally damned.” The side of the truck had the advertisement and address of a church on it.
All those who were excited for ice cream heard a completely different message. I heard a message that did not stop to understand the pain that existed within the community, a message that did not take the time to build relationships with those who were living there and a message that just proclaimed theology but was disconnected from the heart of God.
What my neighbours heard was a loud gong and a clanging cymbal. We may be using our spiritual gifts from God, but if they are not exercised from the heart of who God is, it is just noise—just a gong show.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for grace giving me spiritual gifts to serve Your kingdom. I ask that they are used to demonstrate Your love to others, and not show off my skills.