If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. —1 Corinthians 13:1 NLT
I was angry with my daughter about something. I don’t remember the something. I do remember berating her for her crimes and ending with “I am so disappointed in you.” She was silent, arms folded tightly against her chest. Tears formed in her eyes, but her own anger kept them from falling. She would not fall apart in front of the mother who was hurting her so badly.
Have you ever wished with all your heart you could take back your words? If I could, that would be a time I’d want a do-over. Later, she told me how deeply my words had cut and wounded and seared her soul. It was a brave thing for her to do. At the time, her body language had indicated a massive lack of concern or caring for one word I was spewing. She seemed remote and uninterested and totally disgusted with me. Which, of course, made me all the angrier as I tried to batter down that self-protective shield she had erected.
Let’s ask some hard questions here. Did my anger help my daughter change? Did I exhibit the kind of Christ-likeness I wanted her to live out as an adult? No. On both counts. Just. No. Paul begins his beautiful chapter on love with these telling words: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” My words were harsh and I did not speak in love, so all my daughter heard was a “noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.” My tirade hurt her head like any harsh noise would. My disappointment rocked her world more than she let on.
This month in our Monday Musings, we’ll look at portions of 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter. Our first lesson is this: People listen best to those who speak in love. I did not treat my daughter with the love I would wish to receive. Too often, in those days long ago, I spoke in anger because I was hurting, so I jabbed back. My intent was selfish. My mindset was not about the best way to woo my girl to Christ. I acted in the flesh and reaped the consequences of an unhappy home for a season.
How I thank God that today I have a great relationship with both our precious daughters. They have forgiven me much. I’m eternally grateful for their mercy toward their wayward, angry mother! And if I can help one other person avoid the anger mess, it’s worth telling my story.
Individuals are more apt to listen and change when they feel we are speaking with deep, abiding love for them. If our end goal is as it should be—to always point others to the joy of knowing Christ and walking with Him—then we need to hold our tongues until God fills us full of that kind of love and only then share our concerns.
God operates like that. Jeremiah 31:3 beautifully expresses God’s way of drawing us to Himself: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (NIV). God is patient with us. He loves us when we are obedient, and He loves us and grieves over us when we are not. When we turn like the prodigal son from wickedness and come back to Him, He doesn’t greet us with a long lecture, but with new clothing and great rejoicing! How thankful I am for God’s Word that clearly shows me the love and kindness of our Father—and the loving, patient way He speaks to us!
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive us when we use words as battering rams. Forgive us when we speak in anger to those we truly do love. Help us, please, to wait on You. Fill us with Your love, Lord, when we need to have a hard conversation. And thank You that You draw us to Yourself with “everlasting love” and “unfailing kindness.” We are so very grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
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