1 Corinthians 13
The Excellence of Love
13 If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give away all my possessions to charity, and if I surrender my body so that I may [a]glory, but do not have love, it does me no good.
4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. 5 It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, 6 it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 it [b]keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [c]prophecy, they will be done away with; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part and prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I [d]became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror [e]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.
Romans 11:29 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Joshua generation: those who took God at His Word! believe fully the Word of the Lord!
- We are expected to Grow Up
Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, …
1 Corinthians 3:1-4 ESV But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
1 Peter 2:2-3Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV / For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
- We are to be “Childlike’, not “childish. ”
15 Now they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for [g]the little ones, saying, “Allow the children to come to Me, and do not [h]forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Childlikeness and childishness are not the same thing. The childlike mind is trustful, pure, imaginative and receptive. To be “childish” is to not be full of God’s love and to not live and act in love–the flesh in other words.
- Since we see dimly, we need to see one another with humble toleration.
Polished metal, not like our mirrors today. Corinth was known for its mirrors. Greeks Plato shadows on cave wall our material senses.
Skin not what it seems! Doctor finds skin problems not where expected!
To realize the imperfection of both knowledge and prophecy should save Christian from pride and from dogmatic spirit.
There was no need at all for dogmatic assertion of any personal point of view in the church at Corinth. There was every need for a spirit of toleration and brotherliness which realized that the white light of knowledge and prophecy is made up of many colours and is all the richer because of it. The truth still holds. It invites those who name themselves by Christ name to practice the open mind and to realize that there is still more light and truth to break forth from God‘s word.
If the lamp flickers it is better to follow a fitful flame then walk in darkness.
Imperfect faith offers direction in guidance. These Corinthians are urged to hold to their faith despite its mysteries it at least offers clear direction in guidance than the pagan gods from which they have been emancipated.
Imperfect: God cares more for the character of man than for his comfort and trouble can play a wonderful part in developing the finer aspects of character. If this world was meant to be a school for character we can face life with faith and hope and courage. But while knowledge comes wisdom lingers. The alternative is to adopt a secularist interpretation of life which involves the pessimistic conclusion that all human effort and sacrifice and achievement are doomed and that the cemetery is the end of our civilization.
Christians despite the difficulties of faith, hope and love are fully aware that now we see in a mirror dimly but are not credulous enough to embrace secularism. They hold fast to faith, Imperfect though it is, knowing that in the fullness of God’s time the perfect will be revealed. Therefore we live in hope. Moreover there are certain practical and valuable effects even to have a fragmentary faith. It does put meaning and coherence into life and history, and defines cosmic support for the moral life and it is convinced that righteousness and truth will triumph in the end since the universe is working out a righteous purpose.
- Love a little, means Love a lot!!!
Love is a contribution that everyone can make. Even the meekest and humblest can take his place and play a part. One bucket full of water will not quench a raging fire but the principle is right and many buckets of water will do it. To do so it’s like dropping a pebble into a still pond. No section of that pool is undisturbed by the ensuing movement. So it is with the spiritual contribution that Christian love can make. Mighty Rivers have their source in small mountain streams in Springs. There may seem at any given time to be but full great lakes in the dark firmament of human history but consider how dark the darkness would be where all the lesser lamps quenched. Let the lamp of love shine.
- Love will Triumph!!!
Love will hold the field. Christians believe that they are an outpost of light in the darkness. They are here to stay, to endure, to fight and to triumph until all the ambiguity of the darkness is dissipated forever by the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The future belongs to love. The future belongs to Love because it speaks a language that everyone can understand that everyone can speak if he will. A kindly glance or word or shake the hand or simple deed is recognized in every land. We have seen How it enriches those who give as well as those who receive it.
But even more, the future belongs to it because love is the ultimate reality. God is Love. Love is the guarantee that hate and fear and falsehood all enmity and bitterness are doomed. They are as the Greek philosophers would put it slivers or streaks of irrationality in a cosmic scheme of things. The resurrection of Jesus Christ signifies for all future generations not only that love is the ultimate reality but that to it the victory belongs. In that marvellous symbolic representation of the moral and spiritual struggle throughout the ages which is set forth in the book of revelation such is the verdict. All the unspeakable energy of a spiritual and moral universe is on the side of those who have lined up their life with the love that was incarnate in Jesus Christ. Not death itself can defeat or destroy them. Wherefore make love your aim and triumph is yours!
Why is Love greater than all gifts? Why the greatest of Christian graces? In what sense greater than faith and hope?—
1. It is most like God Himself. In creation, God is love. In grace, God is love. “In glory, God is love. He can receive nothing that can add to His greatness. All that He does is a pouring forth of love.… God is just, is true, patient, unchanging, all-powerful. These are all parts of His love. Without these He would not be perfect love.”
2. It is eternal.—Gifts, however useful or attractive, fail. “They are concerned with temporal things, and are in their nature temporal. The knowledge of art, of science, of law, must one day become obsolete; although the lessons learned and the habits acquired in gaining such knowledge will be endless, the knowledge itself must cease when the subject-matter ceases. But Charity is greater, an emanation from God Himself, reflecting itself in His creatures, and shining through them upon each other; the very atmosphere of heaven. In such an element we shall live and move and have our being. By such a perfect law shall we all be governed.”
IV. How to be obtained?
1. Ask for it.—This fire can only be kindled from Heaven. “To God we must turn to learn what ‘love’ is. Only in His light can we see light; only because He first loved us can we learn to love Him and our neighbours in Him.” “The life of Jesus is a picture of the perfect love of God. He was the Charity that suffereth long and is kind, that is not puffed up and doth not behave itself unseemly, that seeketh not her own and is not easily provoked. Had not the Lord to bear with men’s littlenesses and vanities? Must not the disciple learn from Him to bear all things, to believe all things [this; cf. John 2:24-25], to hope all things [?], to endure all things [yes]?” Useful to note down in the life of Jesus incidents which illustrate Paul’s words. By such close and intimate study of Him—as an artist has some great work of art continually in his presence, that he may be filled with its influence, even when not consciously studying it—we learn, and are enabled, to imitate Him. At stated times set ourselves diligently to meditate upon Him; but always we may have the sweet influence of His presence, and may learn and win His Own “Charity.”
2. Do the things which love demands.—There is nothing of the Divine Charity in loving those to whom we feel drawn. Romans 5:8—“whilst we were yet sinners, God loved us”— Do it, Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.