A Noisy Gong

Around 54 A.D., the Apostle Paul wrote an eye-opening letter to the church in Corinth. The people were busy comparing their contributions to the church and judging each other’s value based on their gifts – the things they did to help the church and community. Paul told the Corinthians that every person’s contribution was important and emphasized the need for unity.

But then he tells them, as excellent as their contributions are, love is better. I may develop and use my gift to its fullest but what is it worth if I don’t love other people?  

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.  – I Corinthians 13:1-3

The Hebrew word for “gong” describes metal made of brass or copper mixed with tin – normally shaped into a drum that yields a hollow, echoing noise. Corinth was steeped in pagan religions and rituals. The people danced wildly under the influence of drugs and alcohol while pagan priests beat their metal drums louder and faster to increase the frenzy. When Paul compared the unloving spirit to a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal, the Corinthians could relate. They knew exactly what this empty worship sounded like because they heard the clamoring of it all day long.

Paul tells the people of Corinth, and us, that it is possible to be doing all the right things, but if our actions are void of love, those things lose their power. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes love in action. Most of the descriptions he uses are verbs. The noun “love” is a great word. It feels ethereal and conjures up all the good emotions, but Paul isn’t writing about lofty concepts or how love feels. The kind of love he is describing is not just talk. It is action.

Join me in studying more about Love In Action through this YouVersion study.

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