“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
This is how Paul began his short and poetic sketch of true love.
Gongs remind us of our school days when it was used as a bell and cymbals remind us of the school band where at the rear along with the big drum you could see and hear the clash/crash of cymbals. They made big noise.
Just like that, our speeches if not spiced with love are just loud noises at best. It does not matter If I can speak in the tongue of angels who speak words of praise to God. But what matters is whether I can speak in love.
It is difficult to meet this standard. Sometimes in our eagerness to speak the truth we wound our loved ones. Because we fail to speak it in love. Again I am reminded of St. Paul who wrote, “Speak the truth in love.”
Criticizing and finding fault without taking into consideration the other person’s limitations, frustrations and difficulties they face in the context of their lives are ways in which we often do not speak the truth in love.
I read somewhere that if we hear the sound of a glass fall to the ground with a loud noise at home, immediately we rush to the spot and ask, “Who did this?” That is speaking without love, without understanding. Instead if we can ask, “What happened?” it would lessen the impact of our words and create an atmosphere of love where an honest expression of truth can happen.
Perhaps nothing colours a message of truth more negatively than the tone in which it is delivered. We often manipulate, terrify and trick people by our tone of voice. But let us resolve otherwise, to try to speak the truth in love.
Let us consider every moment that the person we are talking to is a person with needs, fears, longings and dreams just like any one of us.
It is our ability to see the other person in such a sympathetic light that enables us to talk well, when meanings are painted against a backdrop of love.