Charity 1 Cor. 13: 1-8 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In 1 Cor 13:1-8 Paul exhorts us to follow the “more excellent way,” [1 Cor 12:31] of charity. He describes charity in detail. However, what is charity and how do we follow it?
Charity Defined – 1 Tim 1:5 – a careful study of some cross references shows us clearly what charity is, without looking for a definition in another language or in another place. Charity is simply defined as the second commandment. Check the following passages of scripture:
- 1 Tim 1:5 – “the end of the commandment is charity” – the ultimate objective or fulfillment of the law is charity.
- Matt 22:36-40 – Jesus quotes the first commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…” and then says, “And the second is like unto it.” Then he quotes Lev 19:18, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” He concludes by saying, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” So, we are commanded to love the Lord first. But we are likewise commanded to love our neighbor.
- Rom 13:8-10 – While we are not under the law, Paul quotes the law and applies it to our conduct, “… he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law… therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Paul quotes the second commandment. He said that if you love your neighbor as yourself, you have fulfilled the law.
- Gal 5:13-14 – In Paul’s epistle against being justified by the deeds of the law [Gal 2:16], he exhorts us to “by love serve one another.” He said, “… all the law is fulfilled” when you keep the second commandment.
- Jas 2:8 – James calls the second commandment, “the royal law.” He said that if you fulfill this commandment, “ye do well.”
- Jn 13:34-35 – Jesus strengthened the second commandment for us in the New Testament [just like he did the commandments against adultery and murder] by saying, “That ye love one another; as I have loved you…” This is stronger than just loving your neighbor “as thyself.”
Charity Delegated – 1 Cor 13:1-3 – in this passage Paul says, “Though I speak… Though I have… Though I bestow… and have not charity.” Charity then is our responsibility. If it were the love component of the fruit of the Spirit [Gal 5:22], then it would be something all Christians have as a result of being filled with the Spirit. But Paul, who was definitely filled with the Spirit, said that it was possible for him to do the great things he stated in 1 Cor 1:1-3 without charity. Therefore, charity is something we do and for which we are responsible. No doubt the Spirit of God strengthens us against the weakness of our flesh in this area [Gal 5:15-18]. But he doesn’t take away our responsibility. Look at Gal 5:15 again.
Charity Described – 1 Cor 13:4-8 – in this passage, Paul describes charity for us so that we will know how to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” When you are doing the things Paul describes, then you will know that you have charity. And when you are not, then you know that you “have not charity.”
It is longsuffering and kind. You can put up with things from others for a long time and you, like Jesus, will be kind even to the unthankful and the evil [Lk 6:35, Eph 4:32, 2 Cor 12:15].
It is not envious, boastful, proud, unseemly, self-seeking, or easily provoked. You won’t envy sinners [Prov 23:17] or saints. You won’t boast [bragging on yourself] or be proud [haughty, arrogant, superior spirit]. You won’t do or say things unbecoming to and out of character for a saint. You will esteem others better than yourself [Phil 2:3] and you will seek their wealth and not your own [1 Cor 10:24]. You won’t be easily offended [Ps 119:165] and little things won’t get “under your skin.”
It thinks no evil, rejoices in the truth rather than iniquity, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. You won’t harbor wicked thoughts [Prov 6:18] or evil thoughts toward others. You will find your joy and pleasure in the Lord and in his words rather than in sin. You will bear all that the Lord puts on you [his yoke]. You will believe all that the Lord has said [faith]. Your hope will be in all that the Lord has promised. And you will endure cheerfully all that comes as a result of loving the Lord and loving others.
It never fails. When your love is real it NEVER fails.
Conclusion: I don’t know about you, but it appears to me that we need a lot more charity than we currently have.