“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”.

1 Cor 13:1 NIV

The whole purpose behind the Holy Spirit’s many gifts being distributed among the members of Christ’s body is to build up the body in love. In fact, nothing else will build it up! When spiritual gifts are exercised in love and not in a competitive spirit, the body of believers is edified.

At Corinth, where the believers whom Paul was addressing were situated, there were many people who worshipped the pagan god Dionysus (who was deemed to be the god of nature) and the pagan goddess Cybele (the goddess of wild animals). People engaging in these religions got very worked up in their ceremonies, screaming, shouting and singing loudly. They also used noisy gongs and clashing cymbals. The gong was a single piece of copper. The cymbal was a single-toned instrument incapable of producing a melody. “They were neither melodious nor capable of producing harmony. Both beat out a heavy monotone and caused as much offence as constantly-barking dogs” (D. Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians p227, 228). That equates to the effect those who speak in tongues have when they are not inspired by love. “It does not matter whether the tongues are human languages (as they sometimes seem to be) or even ‘the language of heaven’ (which some people rather smugly assume): if there is no love they come across as unattractive and boorish” (D, Prior p228).

In your Christian community, whether or not some people have the gift of tongues, try to ensure that love is the all-dominant element. Gifts are given to enable love to reign supreme.


Lord, inject your love into everything that happens in our Christian group.