February 4, 2018
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
The use of the word “charity” is ambiguous. It is often used as equivalent to tolerance, as in the phrase, “the judgment of charity;” and often as synonymous with “almsgiving,” as in the sad proverb, “Cold as charity.” Neither of these uses meets the requirements of the text.
2. “Love” is also an ambiguous word, being commonly applied to the feeling of attraction and attachment between young people of opposite sexes – a usage which evidently has no applicability here.
- THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE
It is between one human being and another. The question is not of reverent love to God, but of the mutual feelings of those endowed with the same spiritual nature.
2. It is a sentiment, and there is no love where there is simply a principle of action, cold and unimpassioned.
3. It is a sentiment which governs conduct, restraining men from injuring or slandering one another, and impelling them to mutual assistance.
Is a Useless Life
- Wonderful words without love are useless v1; the utmost facility of expression; the most splendid eloquence. He does not even limit to humanity, but adds, “and of angels,” to show that no acquisition in this directionat all meets the case. The Corinthian Church was peculiarly proud of its “gift of tongues;” its love was not so conspicuous. Talking power without love is noise without music, sounding brass, clanging cymbals. Heavenly language would lose its heavenliness without the royal grace.
- Superior Knowledge without Love is useless v2.Knowledge of the future, human knowledge, knowledge of the secret purposes of the Most High. To know is not enough. If the knowledge of the head does not rightly affect the heart it is thrown away. Knowledge is a splendid weapon, but it is in dangerous hands if it is not in those of love. We may know Christ – know very much about his person, his character, his work – and yet not be his. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name?… then will I profess unto them, I never knew you ‘ (Matthew 7:22, 23).
- Faith without love is useless v2.Judas wrought miracles; but how less than nothing, judged by true standards, was he! What profit if other mountains be removed and the mountain of selfishness be left! How sad to get so near the cross and to catch nothing of its spirit! Here is faith without the chief of works, which alone can prove its genuineness and power. Here is a faith which does not work by love, and is useless except for boast and display.
- Kindness without love is useless v3.The worth of kindness lies not in what we give, but in how we give. The object for which the gift is bestowed does not determine its value; the motive prompting the gift does. We may give “all our goods,” and that to “feed the poor,” and yet perform no virtuous action. We can give lavishly from motives which rob our charity of all its charitableness. Men who give without love do not give; they It is not a spiritual act; it is a commercial speculation. They invest and expect a large return – it may be of’ distinction or applause, or something similarly self tending.
- Sacrifice without love is useless.Though the body be given to the flames, yet all may be “nothing” A man may go to the stake for Christianity, and yet know nothing truly of Christ. There is a self sacrifice which is no self sacrifice. Man has fallen so low that he has originated false and worthless martyrdoms. In later centuries the history of the Church was blotted by some who sought martyrdom from motives of notoriety and vain glory. The martyr’s crown may be sought by those who have not the martyr’s spirit. The martyr is made, not by the burning of the body, but by the love which binds the truth to the heart, and will not let it go at any cost:
Is a Meaningless Life
- Nothing can compensate for the moral quality. The motive is more than the deed. To dois nothing compared with to be. The internal is greater than the external.
- Unless we have love we cannot be brought near to God. God is love.Love is of the Divine essence. If we are destitute of love we are destitute of that which is most conspicuous in God. The ultimate origin of love is in the nature of God, who is love. Its introduction among men is chiefly owing to the Lord Jesus, who was the gift of the Father’s love, whose whole ministry to earth was a revelation of love, and whose benevolent conduct and sacrificial death were the fruit of love.
Its individual power and social efficacy are owing to the presence and operation of the Spirit of God. Not without significance is love mentioned first in the inventory of the fruits of the Spirit, which are these: love, joy, peace, etc.
When the great archangel fell he fell out of love. When we get power we do not grow away from Satan, neither when we get knowledge, nor when we do unusual deeds from selfish motives. When we get love we do. Love is never attributed to Satan; “love is of God.” As we have love, so far we are like God. Satan has power, knowledge, and is doubtless willing to sacrifice much to secure his own cuds; if we have these, without love, we tend to grow in the devils side. Love has redeeming power, consecrating quality, pervading deeds that highlights the life sustaining character of God.