Charity Our Essential Responsibility 1 Cor 13:1-8 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In 1 Cor 12:31, Paul exhorts us to follow the “more excellent way,” of charity. In 1 Cor 13:1-8, he elaborates on charity in detail. He shows us that charity is commanded and essential in our Christian lives. And he shows us what it accomplishes in us, as well.
Charity is commanded by the Lord – 1 Tim 1:5 – a careful study of some cross references shows us clearly that charity is simply the second commandment. Look up 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 is our essential responsibility – 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 simply 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 saved and 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 could do 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, but he doesn’t take away our responsibility [Gal 5:14-18]. Look carefully at Gal 5:16. And for this reason charity is essential to the effectiveness and profitability of our work.
Charity is the key to lasting relationships – 1 Cor 13:4-8 – in this passage, Paul enumerates the numerous qualities of charity so that we will know precisely what’s needed to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” When you have charity, you’ll be doing the things charity does and not doing the things that charity doesn’t do. If you don’t see these qualities, then you know that you “have not charity.”
Charity is longsuffering and kind. When you have charity, 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].
Charity is not envious, boastful, proud, unseemly, self-seeking, or easily provoked. When you have charity, you won’t envy sinners [Prov 23:17] or saints. You won’t boast [bragging on yourself] or be proud [having a haughty, arrogant, superior spirit]. You will not do or say things unbecoming to and out of character for a saint [Prov 10:32]. You will esteem others better than yourself [Phil 2:3] and you will seek the wealth of others 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.”
Charity 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 [Ps 16:11; Jer 15:16]. You will bear all that the Lord puts on you [Matt 11:28-30]. You will believe all the Lord has said [2 Thes 1:3]. Your hope will be in all that the Lord has promised [1 Thes 1:3]. And you will endure cheerfully all that comes as a result of loving the Lord and loving others [2 Thes 1:3-4].
Charity never fails. When your love is real it NEVER fails [Prov 17:17; Eph 5:25].
Conclusion: Charity, which is the “more excellent way,” is the most essential factor in lasting relationships. Charity will keep you close to the Lord, close to your spouse, close to your family and close to each other in this church. Pray to the Lord and ask him to help you abound in charity.