Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19
When was the last time you sang a song to a friend?
Or even a psalm? Has this gone out of fashion, or was it ever in fashion in the last century or so? I can speak for my generation and say that this is not a common occurrence. But, imagine society if we DID speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. There would be harmony rather than discord. Love rather than divisiveness. However,
If I speak in the tongue of men and of angels but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
Paul writes incredibly descriptive words – resounding gongs, clanging cymbals. A resounding gong would be as if you stood next to the city’s clock. Not unlike Big Ben in London (which is actually called the Queen’s Tower). These gongs were meant to be heard long distances so they gong away. Resounding is to gong over and over again – as in midnight or noon. 12 long gongs, echoing and piercing through the common noise of the people. Our words when spoken inappropriately are like that – they can be heard over the din of life, leaving a wake of hurt.
Or what about cymbals? I sing in our church’s choir and my spot in the choir loft is by the brass section – WOW. Those trumpets are loud. But even louder are the cymbals on the other side of the platform. They are meant to be loud, obnoxious and noticeable. They prove a point, are the exclamation of a movement in music and grab our attention. Have you seen the movie, The Man Who Knew Too Much? (Ok, so I have a film maker for a son, and we love old movies.) It’s all about the cymbals. Again, our words can be clanging out of tune and out of touch with someone if we do not come with compassion and love. They can shock someone who had fallen asleep in the concert of our words – not something we really want.
Speaking of words – are you ever tongue-tied with someone in grief or deep suffering. At a loss for words because you don’t want to say the wrong thing? Have you experienced the wrong thing being said to you? Especially when you are already down? It’s bad enough that you are in a hospital room/chair/confined, but to have hurtful things flung at you is basically icing on the cake – a rather poor bake at that. I had some uncalled for, hurtful words said to me this week. Accusations, misunderstandings, poor judgment. They seemed to come from a place of judgment rather than compassion and understanding and they stung like a bee, lasting longer than the initial sting.
One thing I have learned while in this current season of affliction – unless you have gone through it, you don’t understand. One cannot be an armchair quarterback to someone suffering. Shoulda-woulda-coulda has no place in our arsenal. Oh, I am speaking to myself to on this because I love to help others. But my ‘help’ may be unsolicited or miscalculated. And because of that it comes across either uncaring or judgmental.
Not that we want to be this way. Generally, we want to help to ease suffering. In a society reeling from a global pandemic, everyone having differing opinions and feeling trapped like a caged bird, words have been exchanged. Before we would have kept our opinions to ourselves, or at least confine them to the 4 walls of our home. But frustration has ruled the day and we have left politeness in our collective pockets. In getting beyond this, we can look to Scripture for our guide – singing songs and hymns to one another. And that in turn will have us praising God.
Finally brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1
Words can build up, puff up, encourage, be shouted from the rooftop, or spoken in a tearful prayer. Words can sooth a weary sufferer to keep going. Words can be offered in praise to God for His goodness, compassion and mercy. When we speak, we come alongside someone and lift him/her up.
May our words be a pleasing aroma unto God and to our fellow man.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). AMEN