The greatest testimony of all, beyond the life of our Lord, is our own life as we live it.
- We can castigate bullies, but if we are one, that means nothing.
- We can warn against the dangers of texting and driving, but if we do it, it means nothing.
- We can champion self-respect, but if we have none, it means nothing.
- We can caution against failing to set healthy boundaries, but it we fail to, it means nothing.
We, the wise, older set, who have lived life and have something to say, are resounding gongs and clanging symbols in the lives of those we love if we say one thing and do another. We become noise-makers, adding additional volume but no more meaning.
This, I believe, is why the biblical Paul so passionately begins his plea to the people of Corinth this way:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
This precedes the beautiful “love chapter” of the Bible often read at weddings. Of the love that is patient and kind and doesn’t envy or boast. The love that’s not self-seeking, isn’t prideful or easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. That perfect love which never fails.
That’s the love we can never quite live up to but which sets an example to reach for in our lives with another, and with all others, including ourselves.
First, we have to let that love come alive and be real in us, before we try to pawn it off on someone else. Otherwise, our hypocrisy is telling, and they will probably waste no time telling us! When we say one thing, but do another, it’s our unloving that’s showing.
We have to start with love, both for ourselves and the other – not an easy task. It requires perspective beyond ourselves to set a right course for our intentions and priorities. When we invite an honest look at the lives we are leading, we can align our thoughts, words and actions with the love God intends.
When we start with love, what we say and do makes a whole lot more sense.