My last post was titled: Words Without Love are Just Noise.
Having said that… let me first of all affirm the power of words in a relationship. There are those here that are still smarting from a relationship with a parent that couldn’t say those simple three words: “I love you.” Encouraging Words are a Love Language for many. (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Languages-Secret-That-Lasts/dp/0802473156/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318869985&sr=8-1) So what is Paul trying to say? He’s saying words are just words if there is no love behind them. Words with genuine love behind them are powerful!
Words without love… are like fm static… feedback from a sound board… a clanging piece of brass. Imagine you live in a small apartment that has thin walls… next door is a child that daily practices his instrument… A set of cymbals.
That is language divorced from love.
In Paul’s day, many pagan temples in Corinth had large gongs or cymbals hanging near their entrances. And people would bang them as they entered to somehow get the attention of the god (little g) they had come to worship. It is almost as though Paul is saying: Flowery words about the Father that aren’t rooted in love… are a pagan ritual.
Could that be the way Christians sound to the world sometimes? We sound the alarm about the need for salvation, we warn about the coming judgment… we declare how people should live and then fight amongst ourselves and separate from one another… and all the world can hear are cymbals crash together. Ravi Zacharias notes: “Without the undergirding of love, the possessor of any conviciton becomes obnoxious, and the dogma believed becomes repulsive to the one who disagrees with it. The early church also lived in an intensely pluralistic culture in which it had to deliver an exclusivistic message, but the believers were distinguished and recognized by their love. Our Lord Himself proclaimed truth in exclusive terms, terms in which there was no compromise, but He demonstrated that truth by the embodiment of perfect love.” (Deliver Us From Evil, p.83)
James W. Moore tells this parable to make this point: Once upon a time there was a piece of iron, which was very strong and very hard. Many attempts had been made to break it, but all had failed. “I’ll master it,” said the axe… and his blows fell heavily upon the piece of iron, but every blow only made the axe’s edge more blunt, until it finally ceased to strike and gave up in frustration.
“Leave it to me,” said the saw… and it worked back and forth on the iron’s surface until its jagged teeth were all worn and broken. Then in despair, the saw quit trying and fell to the side. “Ah!” said the hammer, “I knew you two wouldn’t succeed. I’ll show you how to do this!” But at the first fierce blow, off flew its head and the piece of iron remained just as before, proud and hard and unchanged.
“Shall I try?” asked the small soft flame. “Forget it,” everyone else said. “What can you do? You’re too small and you have no strength.” But the small soft flame curled around the piece of iron, embraced it… and never left it until it melted under its warm irresistible influence.
God’s way is not to break hearts but to melt them. Perhaps it means that that is our calling – to melt hearts… under the irresistible warmth of God’s gracious love.