Noise. Meaningless clashing. Irritating and incomprehensible. Loud and shrill and…just downright hard to listen to. It reverberates in your ears, and you can’t escape it. You’d give anything to have silence again.
That is a clanging cymbal and a noisy gong.
And so often that is me. It is, and has been, my struggle daily and probably for the entirety of my life. Words escape my mouth and I wish I could pull them back. I wish I could transform them into a beautiful melody, that calmed, encouraged and soothed. I know my heart and I know that my intentions are loving. So why do my words and actions echo forth like clashings and clangings?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-6
Maybe I don’t know my heart.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so confident that my intentions are love.
When I say that I am upset at my kids’ behavior because I love them, is it really love or a desire to confirm that I am right? Is it a desire to be in control of the situation? Is my “love” really a desire to fix them because it is easier for me as a parent?
When I teach my kids, I desperately desire for them to learn. I am passionate about the truth we are discovering. In my “love”, somewhere patience, kindness get lost and replaced with irritability and insistence on my way.
I continue to believe that my heart is loving because I want them to grow. I think I know my motives. I want to see them become mature and confident people who serve God. Isn’t that loving??
I may think this is love, but obviously my definition of love doesn’t match God’s. If I forsake kindness and adopt arrogance then my love cannot be real love.
This extends in all areas of my life. I hate to admit it. I know my family, friends and probably even complete strangers are impacted. I honestly don’t try to be abrasive or intense on purpose. I, especially, don’t intentionally try to be unloving…most of the time. I desperately want to be loving. I do strive to make this is my motive in everything.
But I am a sinner. Underneath, there is a war going on. It is a battle between my definition of love and God’s definition. My kind of love somehow still benefits me in some way. The challenge is that it takes constant evaluation of God’s Word to know what true love is. It takes the life-long work of the Spirit to actually transform my life.
Love doesn’t mean I have to give up my values, or that I’m are compromising these truths. Love doesn’t mean that I condone the sins of my children. Love doesn’t mean that everyone will agree and understand me. Love doesn’t mean that I stop being passionate about Godly causes.
So what is it? What is love?
God is love, he said his Law is all about love, and he sent his Son who is the perfect embodiment of love. In drawing near to God, I hope to grow to experience his definition of love. In searching his Law I hope more and more to understand the application of this love. And as my perfect example, I hope to keep my eyes on the Messiah and walk this love out like he did.
I really can’t even grasp this. I want to. I try to.
Maybe one day, maybe not until heaven, I hope to be a joyful noise. I pray that my heart and my life would be a beautiful song that brings glory to God.
Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
In the mean time, I sound like a 4th grade beginning percussion class. My family covers their ears and my friends try to sit through the agony. Please continue to extend me this grace when my cymbals start clashing and my noisy gongs sound. I know it happens all too often. Dear friends, I am trying to practice. I really am.
And I am hopeful because I have a really, really great Teacher! And if nothing else, I hope people will see how amazing my Teacher is. How patient, how gentle and how incredibly skilled at taking a poor soul who cannot create one pleasant sound…and masterfully transforming that harsh clanging into something that joyfully proclaims his glory.
That is probably them most important part of all. We serve a powerful God of mercy, who gives us hope as he shows us his love.