“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.”
(I Corinthians 13:1 NIV)
What if we slightly changed the words of the verse above? It could read, “If I write in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I come across as a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Gongs and cymbals have their place. But hearing them consistently for a great length of time would become annoying.
Our country recently celebrated Independence Day with picnics in parks, backyard barbeques, and fireworks. We have neighbors who are quiet and rarely seen. But they love to blow things up every 4th of July.
This year was no different. They held a large party and set off explosives nonstop from eight until midnight. It sounded like we were being invaded by the military. No one in the surrounding area could sleep. This morning our back and front yards were covered with ash and debris. It happens only once a year, so we try not to get overly irritated. But there would be a neighborhood uprising if it was a frequent occurrence.
How does this apply to writing, you ask?
Just as there are times when preachers need to be “on fire” as they share God’s word, there may be times when writers need to be direct in relaying how God desires us to live. But if those words aren’t tempered with love, the affects can be messy. Like after a wild party, it can take a lot of work to clean up the disaster left behind. Only in this situation, devastation may happen in a person’s heart or mind, as opposed to a yard. That is . . . if he's is even willing to read through the “sermon.”
Jesus on rare occasions felt the need to display anger and shout God’s word, but most of the time he took a gentle and loving approach. He often spoke in parables so it was easier to grasp what he wanted to teach.
I believe love and gentleness play important roles in the motives and manners in which we share our faith. If we write out of love - and not condemnation or with an attitude that we’re better than others - our words won't feel like gongs or clanging cymbals in the minds of our readers. Through our fiction and nonfiction stories, we’re able to share God’s love and forgiveness in a gentle way that can seep into the hearts of those who engage in the lives of our characters.
I desire to write out of true love for my readers – and not my personal agenda.
I want my words to be a sweet, soothing song to the reader’s spirit. Not a loud, clashing cymbal.
How about you?