1 Corinthians 13:1-7 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (2) 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. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (4) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
As we continue studying and receiving advice for our Christian walk, we come to the subject of our relationships and charity, or love.
Strong’s defines Charity as love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast. Here, Paul is showing us that people can do a lot of things, a lot of good things, and yet not have a motivation of love in doing so.
The fact of the matter is we all have a tendency to overrate things.
“That is the BEST meal I EVER had…PRETTIEST baby I have EVER seen…”
We have a tendency to overstate things.
A fellow said to a man who was given to exaggeration, “Friend, you exaggerate. Everything you say is bigger, better, more by the thousands or millions. You need to stop that.” The exaggerator answered, “I’m really concerned about that myself. In fact, I have shed barrels and barrels of tears over it.” (Don’t Look Now, But Your Religion Is Showing, Barber, pg 89)
But there is no possible way for us to overrate or overstate the impact of charity, or love. A poet once said:
Love is a funny thing; it is just like a lizard.
It crawls around your heart and jumps into your gizzard.
Another poet said it this way:
Love is like an onion, You taste it with delight.
And when you’re through, You wonder whatever made you bite. (Barber, pg 89)
Love is just something that you and I cannot fully explain; it must be experienced. And there is no greater example of this truth than the love of God. If our finite brains could explain the Love of God, it wouldn’t be much! As we talk about relationships, the most important relationship you have is with God. Can you say today that you love God as much or more than the day you were saved? You may not feel it is possible, but don’t overstate or overrate your love of God. The church of Ephesus did – Revelation 2:1-4.
In these verses from 1 Corinthians, we see different areas that love is greater than. We will look at the first two in this post.
LOVE IS GREATER THAN THE
WORDS WE SAY – 13:1
Paul lived in what is commonly called the Greco-Roman world. It was from this same region that some of the world’s greatest philosophers came – Socrates, Plato, and others. Think about some of the great Greek cities during Paul’s days – Acts 17:15-23, 32-34. Here in Athens at Mar’s Hill, Paul stands in the midst of all of this so-called knowledge and higher learning and preaches the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This area of the world was known for having great men of speech, or oratory ability. Many could move crowds and governments with their speech. But Paul reminds the readers that it does not matter how intelligent sounding their speech is; without love it is empty. As a Christian, you can say the right things, but if it is not bathed in love, it is empty – no one will hear.
How many of your words have fallen on deaf ears because to the hearer, it only sounded like a noisy gong (brass) or clanging (tinkling) cymbal? How bothersome is it to hear someone just steadily bang on an instrument? How bothersome are our words to our hearers when there is no love in what we say?
LOVE IS GREATER THAN THE
WISDOM WE POSSESS – 13:2
Paul gives 3 forms of wisdom here. The first is Prophecy. In the Old Testament, the prophet spoke for God, and only spoke what God had revealed to him. Paul and the Corinthians were familiar with the Old Testament prophets. The new believers in Corinth could now go back and read those great prophets and now fully understand what those Israelites who denied Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Saviour missed – that God had provided the way of salvation through His only begotten Son. And it is through the lens of love that the Old Testament prophets spoke their messages of warning and coming judgment. One of the prophets, Jeremiah, is known as the “weeping prophet” because of his love and broken heart for wayward Israel. The judgment of God must be declared, but it must be done so with a heart of love.
The second form of wisdom Paul mentions is Knowledge. Paul is saying that it does not matter how much we understand, and how much knowledge we have if we do not posses love. This does not mean that we should not seek for knowledge and wisdom from God and His Word. What it shows is that our gathering of this knowledge should not only fill our minds with wisdom, but it should also fill our hearts with a greater love for God and people.
The third form of wisdom is Faith. As much as the Bible speaks about faith, we see here that it is hollow without love. So, in essence, we can say that love and faith go hand in hand. If you don’t have faith, then you don’t have love. And if you don’t have love, then you do not have faith.
Do you show love in your words and wisdom with others around you?