A while back I was reading through 1 Corinthians 13. I was studying the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 because I'd like to write a series of young children's books about them. So far I'm still stuck on love. The following and the next several posts are what I journaled while reading through the "love" chapter (seemed like an obvious place to start). God showed me some really cool stuff that I want to share. I'm nowhere close to perfecting the things in these posts in my own life. They are things I'm aspiring to. In fact I need to read through this stuff quite often to remind myself of what I'm working on. So anyway, here goes...
1 Corinthians 13:1 - IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God's love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (AMP)
It doesn’t matter how well spoken I am, or even what I say if I don’t say it with love. I may be extremely eloquent, or even have a lot of passion behind my words, but if I don’t speak in love no one will want to listen. Without the context of love, what I say will just be a bunch of harsh, loud, and unpleasant noise that causes the listener to cringe. In fact, what I say will be so abrasive that people will only want to cover their ears and run away. A few may hear me, but most likely those will be the ones who already agree with what I am saying. I may win over a handful of people to my message, but most will be turned off by what I say, and they may even become opposed to my point of view. The motivational context to my message is the most important key to a successful delivery, no matter the message. This is true for a message to the masses as well as a request of my spouse or kids in my day-to-day life.
Recently I ate a piece of chicken that had a strange texture, which made it very unappetizing (please bear with me here). So much so that I ended up giving it to the cats to eat. The flavor was good; in fact the recipe was excellent. I was really looking forward to savoring it, so when I noticed the odd texture, & realized that I couldn’t eat the chicken, I was really disappointed (not to mention that I was in a hurry & didn’t have time to fix something else). The thing that struck me was that I kept feeling the texture in my mouth long after I had finished eating. I had even grabbed a banana to eat after surrendering my plate to the cats, but even that did not replace that awful “mouth feel” left by the chicken.
I don’t want my message to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. I may use all the right words, and have a beautiful speech or manuscript at first take, but if I’m not speaking in love, then the texture of my message is all wrong & I will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. People may even be looking forward to my message because they are looking for answers, but end up disappointed because the motivational context makes the message hard to take. And in terms of the Kingdom of God, time is short. Every second that passes brings us closer to the end. People don’t have time to try a lot of different messages, so they end up grabbing whatever is in easy reach (like the banana). But no matter what they try it cannot completely erase that awful “mouth feel” left by the poor texture of my message.
“Texture”, “context”, and, “text” come from the same Latin root, “texere”, meaning, “to weave”. Think of textiles, how a piece of fabric feels when you put it on. Some fabrics look beautiful, but the way they feel against your skin is just a little off, like commercially prepared wool that is scratchy. However, wool that is processed by hand feels just as soft and beautiful against your skin as it looks. What is the “feel” of your message? I hope the point is made by now that no matter how wonderful it sounds, if it is not motivated by love it will feel wrong, and people will be unable to accept it. Let us always examine the motivation behind our message. Is it love or something else? Pride perhaps? Fear? Selfishness? Hate? Acceptance? The desire to look good in front of people? The desire to be right or in control? Is it an attempt to manipulate the listener? Is it judgmental or prejudiced? I dare say that if we take the time to adequately examine what we want to say, we will say a lot less, listen a lot more, and be much more likely to get our point across, because people will be able to hear and accept what we have to say. My desire is for everything I say to be motivated by love. If I speak in love people will hear and receive what I say. I will be reasoning, intentional, and inspired by God when I speak in love.