“Love” is a much misused word, misunderstood even by Christians, whose “mark” is supposed to be love. At present many valentine cards are flying about the country speaking of one or another sort of affection, and the day of many grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, and others is cheered by the reminder that someone was thinking of them. However much we may scream “commercial,” something is better than nothing as a sort of a squeeze of the hand across the miles. Yes, even an “artificial” day can be a helpful jog to get us to stop in our “too-busy” hour-by-hour day-by-day life and say, “I love you, you are significant to me, you matter, it is important to me that you are alive.”

In First Corinthians 13, we are admonished in strong words to speak with love. No matter how beautiful and eloquent our speech, if it is without love, it sounds like the clank of brass or the tinkling of a cymbal. Our speaking is to be in love, with love, prompted by love.

Chapter 14 goes on to say that we are to “follow after love” so that we can speak in a way that will build up people in their understanding and give them comfort. True comfort can come only from knowing the truth and the hope and the promises of the living God. Our compassion and love are to prompt us to comforting conversation, and also to conversation in which we learn something that will help us take a step forward in the Christian life.

When we talk on and on with no consideration for anyone else, no thought of what someone else might need to hear or say, our conversation can do great harm, spraying the plants around us with a poison that stunts growth instead of with fresh water and a little proper fertilizer to help growth. What harm can take place in an evening’s ...

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