“Though I speak with tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing,” 1 Corinthians 13:1-2.
There are several interpretations as to what the scripture is referring to by sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
One commentary defines this as a “rude and uncertain sound.” Others speak of a brass instrument such as a trumpet that makes a flat, unclear sound.
The same goes for the expression tinkling cymbal. All agree that a quality cymbal gives a sharp, resonant sound that lingers in depth and clarity, not a dull thud or dead sounding clang.
Charity is defined in several ways. We often use the word Love but this may not adequately describe the way the word charity is used here.
One source relates this as “a kindly and lenient attitude toward others.” Another, “love of one’s fellow man or brotherly love.”
In a large camp-meeting some years ago, I heard the late Rev. Billy Cole make a statement that I’m not sure we took to heart as we should have.
He said that he felt we Pentecostals had the truth. He added that, “if we really have the truth, then why are we so hateful about it?”
He had been discussing the way that Church people deal with one another and how we present ourselves to our neighbors and to the world we say we want to reach.
Some years ago I heard another pastor teach on this subject. The gist of the message was about how Paul had just been talking about the Gifts of the Spirit and the mighty works of God in the previous chapter, and that he all of a sudden stopped and began to talk about the importance of love and what true love really is.
“I am nothing” is a very strong statement coming from such an anointed, gifted man who wrote so much of the New Testament and has been called the greatest of the Apostles.
In truth, he was only repeating the very same thing Jesus Christ said in the gospels, “Without love, you are nothing…..”
Jesus said that men would know we were his disciples by the way that we love one another.
We can easily remember the scripture that says that if we do not love our brother. whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen?
Just why did Paul stop talking about such wonderful spiritual heights and begin warning us about not showing the fruit of the Spirit and preach a sermon on how love is really supposed to act?
It’s likely, because he was seeing people who had been filled with the Holy Ghost, using the gifts that God had given them and being unkind to others.
I recently saw a video on YouTube that made me very sad. This man said that out of all Christians, we Pentecostals were the most rude and insulting people he had ever met.
Although this person may not be the perfect example, too much of what he said was true. He called us argumentative and intolerable about our beliefs and that we were quick to rail on others who did not agree with us, that we felt we were the only ones right.
Most of us will simply dismiss what he said. What causes me to hesitate for a moment is that one description of charity, “a kindly and lenient attitude toward others.”
Have we really come to the place that we actually do not care what other Churches and the world think about us?
Do we excuse our rudeness and possible conceit, by proclaiming that this is holiness?
Jesus said, “Be ye holy as I am holy.” What does that mean to us today?
Isn’t loving our brothers and sisters everywhere what holiness is really all about?
Isn’t what Paul said in this chapter also part of the Truth?
God, rebaptise us with the fruit of the Spirit so that when anyone is around us, they can feel the Spirit of The LORD and how much God loves them.
They will want to be with us rather than avoid us. We will be full of the Holy Ghost and all the fruit that goes along with it — a clear note and and a certain sound.
Charity, or love if you wish, that is described starting in verse 4, is a beautiful thing, something I long to see and feel, the kind of person I want to be.
A rude and uncertain sound — a sound that everyone knows is not right, no matter how spiritual we think we are or how doctrinally correct we profess ourselves to be.
~ Robert Blackburn