Charity is the Greatest 1 Cor. 13 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Why is Charity greater than faith and hope? Because it never faileth!!
In 1 Cor. 13, charity is compared to prophecy, tongues, knowledge, faith, and hope and is superior to all five of these things.
Charity is greater than prophecy because prophecies will fail (v.8). When Jesus returns to this earth, most prophecies will have been fulfilled. And what hasn’t been fulfilled will come to pass as written in the Bible or revealed directly by Jesus Christ himself. Thus, anyone who prophesies when Jesus is here is to be killed (Zech. 13:1-3).
She is greater than tongues because tongues will cease (v.8). According to 1 Cor. 14:22, “Tongues are for a sign.” And according to 1 Cor. 1:22, “Jews require a sign.” So, when all Israel is saved at the second coming of Jesus (Rom. 11:25-26) there will be no more need for the gift of tongues. Actually, the gift of tongues is the gift to speak in a language that is unknown to the speaker but known to the audience (Acts 2:6-8). The gift of interpretation is the ability to translate a language that is known to the speaker but unknown to the audience (1 Cor. 14:27-28). [This modern day tongues movement is not Biblical.]
She is greater than knowledge because knowledge shall vanish away (v.8). When Christ returns, or when “that which is perfect is come” (v.9), “they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying Know the Lord: for all shall know me from the least to the greatest,” (Heb. 8:11). This concerns all who are in the new covenant.
She is greater than faith (v.13) because, when Christ returns, there will be no more need to believe him by faith, you will be able to see him (Rev. 1:7). After all, “faith is the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1).
She is greater than hope (v.13) because, when Christ returns our blessed hope will appear (Titus 2:13). Like Rom. 8:23-24 says, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
In other words, charity is greater than all of these because they all come to an end some day, but she never does. She never fails. And look at all the great qualities of charity that are found in 1 Cor 13:4-8. Charity:
- Suffereth long – this is a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. When you love someone the way that God loves them, you will put up with them, even to the point of suffering. Many a mother has suffered long with her children.
- Kind – to the brethren, to the lost and even to your enemies.
- Envieth not – envy looks at people and despises them for the perceived advantage they have or desires to have the same advantage. Charity doesn’t see the advantage.
- Vaunteth not itself – charity doesn’t boast or brag.
- Not puffed up – charity doesn’t make big shots, it makes servants and ministers.
- Doth not behave unseemly – charity always knows the right conduct and conversation. It does the faithful and appropriate thing, considering the other fellow.
- Seeketh not her own – charity always considers what’s best for the other guy.
- Not easily provoked – a person might get provoked but with charity he won’t be provoked easily. It’s hard to get “under his skin” and “rub him the wrong way.”
- Thinketh no evil – charity keeps your mind pure and keeps you from evil thoughts toward or about others.
- Rejoiceth not in iniquity – some people delight when something bad happens to another person. But charity is never happy about another person’s fall or calamity. It never rejoices in sin.
- Rejoiceth in the truth – charity causes your heart joy at the hearing of the truth, particularly truth that is preached and taught.
- Beareth all things – charity can carry many of the burdens of the brethren
- Believeth all things – we live by faith and all the things that must be believed for us to live by faith, charity believes.
- Hopeth all things – we are saved by hope and we are looking for that blessed hope and charity is what keeps us hoping when all else looks hopeless. It never gives up.
- Endureth all things – Paul endured all things for the elect’s sake and he was able to do it for one reason… charity. A man with charity can take all that the world, the flesh and the devil have to throw at him.
As a matter of fact, Paul tells us that we can have all the faith anyone has ever had, speak with more tongues than anyone else, understand all the mysteries and prophecies, know everything there is to know, give all of our money to the poor, and submit our lives to martyrdom and without charity we would end up a total blank. Sadly, many modern Christians are more concerned with prophecy, knowledge, spiritual gifts, faith, giving and spiritual heroics than they are with genuine charity.
The underlying motive for everything we do in life, therefore, should be our love for Jesus Christ and our love for others (Col. 3:14, 1 Jn. 4:16-21). Without this love, the things we do in the name of Christ, for which we hope to be rewarded, will “profit [us] nothing.” Conversely, if we follow after charity (1 Cor. 14:1), we will be the best that we can possibly be down here on earth, and we will have done something that Christ can reward up there in heaven.