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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”—1 Corinthians 13:1 (NKJV)
Thousands of messages are communicated daily, some good and some bad. But which ones stick? When it comes to communicating a message, I’m reminded of the recent presidential election. There was a different headline every day leading up to November 9. I’m sure you can remember some of them. Some sang of hope, others struck fear in our hearts, and rarely did any resound with the tune of love.
Why do difficult topics have to be so . . . tense? Religious differences, political differences, moral differences. So often we feel misled by our convictions because we’re constantly fighting for others to understand them, to accept them—to accept us. Sometimes, when we fight for our voices to be heard, or fight for our reputation, we neglect the love of God and end up annoying the listener, turning them away from the depth and beauty of the gospel that we’re trying to convey.
Unfortunately, the Church has a questionable reputation for communicating unlovingly, and that theme has stuck in our society. Doesn’t that sadden your soul? The message we sing of is truly the most accessible, beautiful, and life-giving; but sometimes, we fight more to be understood by the listener than to make our message comprehensible to the listener. Today’s verse tells us that the truth is tuned out if it isn’t dripping with love for the listener.
Ephesians 4:15 (HCSB) says, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.” When we speak truth without love, our message is abrasive and inaccessible; it draws us away from growing with others toward Christ. And when we speak lovingly without truth, our message is weak and watered down, driving ourselves and others away from the fullness of grace. There must be a balance of both.
While Christians have the ability to forgive a negative conversation that has stuck with them, the non-believer may not be quite as understanding. Praise the Lord that there is grace for our shortcomings! While we may fail, we can be confident that our God is a God of second chances, and He desires to make His gospel clear and accessible through us—like a beautiful harmony, rather than a clanging cymbal!
DIG: Read 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4:1–15.
DISCOVER: Are you the arguer or the clear communicator? Whichever you believe you are, challenge yourself to remain quiet before the Lord prior to speaking to someone. Even the most eloquent communicator can use refinement, so let the Lord refine you. Give Him the ability to stretch you, making your message stronger and more accessible.
DISPLAY: Has someone communicated a message to you in an unloving way that has turned you away from the truth of their message? Choose today to forgive them, and ask the Lord to reveal the truth in a new way that can be beneficial to your spirit!