Tongues of Love

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’m going to be continuing again our look at 1 Cor. 13. Last night, I wrote on how agape is the kind of love being discussed in this passage. What is agape exactly? Before he gets to what it is, Paul wants us to know how valuable it is. Often times, I fear some of us can be so eager to get to the latter part which describes love and then get to the ending part with so many great quotes we regularly use, that we miss the gravity of what has been said here.

The text is as follows:

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.

The text is straightforward enough, but what is being said? Let us consider the surrounding context. Paul has been talking about spiritual gifts and one that has been a hotbed of controversy is the gift of tongues. For now, let us lay aside what we think the gift of tongues is. Whatever it is, we can all agree it is a gift and all sides I know of believe it contains with it a way of speaking another language or understanding another language, be it an earthly language or a prayer language.

Let us suppose that someone has this gift, to which Paul himself later says that he does. Note that in Paul’s time, oratory ability was highly valued. There were several rules for speaking and one needed to be a good speaker in order to get the point across. Paul does the same in his epistles as well as there was a proper rhetoric to follow when giving an argument.

Many of us have experienced today the idea of being dazzled by a speaker and while we cannot really tell what they said, they sure sound persuasive. Politicians try to specialize in this wanting to get an audience caught up in an emotion rather than address the arguments that they put forward. Sadly, a lot of preachers do this as well thinking that a lot of emotion in place of a good point is enough to spur people to Christlikeness and shows that their message is from the Holy Spirit.

In saying that, I am not against rhetoric. I do believe that talks ought to be presented in a way to be persuasive. I believe there is a great importance in emotional appeal, thus there is no reason to decide someone does not know what they are talking about simply because there is great emotion there. There is also no reason to they they know what they’re talking about because they lack great emotion.

However, what Paul is saying is to picture that you are a great speaker in some way and you do have the gift of tongues, even if you could communicate with the tongues of angels. Paul says that if you do not have love while you have that gift, then you are simply making noise.

Consider the magnitude of this. This was a gift that the Corinthians were taking pride in. They were vaunting their spirituality by this gift and what does Paul say about it? “You’ve got the gift? Well congrats. But you don’t have love, so you’re just making noise. Nothing good will come of it.”

What does that say to us today? It tells us that we don’t want to be just making noise either. Now I believe in our evangelism there is a time to be tough and a time to be soft, but there is never a time to not have the love of Christ in what we say. In our talks, we need to be persuasive and prepared, but we must have love. It is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, we could spend hours upon hours talking, and we would simply be making noise.

What else has Paul to say about the importance of love? That is for next time.