What do you think, when you hear
somebody mention tongues of angels?
Would these tongues be reddish, pink or rose?
Would angels speak in poetry or prose?
When you speak of angels,
what would they be like?
Would you love to hear, what angels say?
Do you expect them to tell you,
what is forbidden and what you may?
Do you imagine angels good or bad?
If you should meet one,
would you be terrified or glad?
(As I have referred to poetry in a recent post here is a feeble attempt in rhyming.)
Howbeit, what would you make of a man or woman, who claims to speak with tongues of angels?
Or what if somebody should make you feel, he or she was like an angel? You just marvel at him. His or her words seem so amiable, beautiful and trustworthy. You get the feeling that this speaker is aware of your innermost desires and needs. You begin to think: If I could just stay with this person, all will be well!
You continue in your dreams until you realise: This mysterious speaker has disappeared – and so did your purse, your money and your valuables! …
If you should wish to write a continuation of this story you might describe your feelings after this great discovery!
All this is meant as an – admittedly drastic – illustration of St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:1:
“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.” (New International Version).
Well, most probably Paul did not first and foremost think of pickpockets as he wrote these words. Yet the above story certainly conveys the idea of what a lack of love could be like.
Paul is writing about Christian living, Christian ministry and church life. A speaker may know how to modulate his voice and to gain the sympathy of his hearers. Rhetoric may be great. It is a wonderful gift or charisma.
Paul has been writing about gifted people in the previous chapter. He encouraged the Corinthians to seek after the best gifts. But he told them there was an even better way.
In chapter 13:1 he refers to speaking. He says even great words were of limited value, if there should be a lack of sincere love. He begins to describe this kind of love only later in this chapter.