A Sounding Gong


My dad and mom did family living seminars throughout the country for several years. They would arrive at a church on Sunday. Dad would speak in the morning and evening and then each evening after that for the next week. Often nothing was happening during the day and there they were … in a town miles away from home. That’s when they became interested in brass antiques, specifically scales. The “hunt” through antique shops provided something interesting for them to do as they explored the town.

Sometimes, however, they would find some other brass gem. That’s how the gong showed up at their house. For a long time, it sat on their coffee table, ready to be bumped into by anyone who walked by … especially by our kids who were young and energetic.

The gong’s sound was similar to fingernails on a chalkboard and although, there are less chalkboards around now these days, I think most of us can bring to memory what that sounds like.

From the very beginning that gong reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:1 —If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Wow! And aren’t most of us good speaking with polite, sincere language, even when we’re thinking something very different inside?

I remember a situation that illustrates this point perfectly. A co-worker was talking to me, totally ripping apart a mutual acquaintance. She said he did his job stupidly, wasn’t too bright, and bugged her to death. Before I could change the subject, the acquaintance himself walked by and her demeanor instantly changed. “Oh, hi, Herbert. I’ve missed seeing you around. How’s your wife?”  I looked at the big smile on her face with astonishment.What was coming out of her mouth was NOT what she was thinking.

We need to teach our children that true, Christ-centered love is not only what we say, but what’s in our hearts.

When our children  pretend to like a classmate because they know she’s having a super-duper birthday party and wants to be invited.

When our children sweetly lie to us about what they did at their friend’s house and it’s only later you find out the trouble they caused.

When our children convincingly explain to a teacher that they didn’t get their homework done because the family was too busy the night before — even though it was more like they wasted the evening fighting with their brother.

These are the moments when what they’re saying doesn’t match up with what’s in their hearts and minds. (And like my co-worker, we as adults are even more adept at doing this.) We can’t pretend to have Christ-centered love for each other by what we say, when we’re those words are a facade for unkindness, untruthfulness, and manipulataion. We are like noisy gongs.

Speaking of that gong.

Last week we were cleaning out the attic over the garage and guess what showed up? The gong. And again I immediately thought about 1 Corinthians 13 and how our pseudo-sweet words are like that clanging instrument.

I couldn’t find the stick you hit it with, but the knife worked and the resulting sound was just as ear-shattering as ever.

So listen to this aggravating, annoying, headache-producing gong (or play it for your kids) and think about the truth beneath your words.




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