1 Corinthians 13

* The necessity and advantage of the grace of love. (1-3) Its

excellency represented by its properties and effects; (4-7) and

by its abiding, and its superiority. (8-13)

1-3 The excellent way had in view in the close of the former

chapter, is not what is meant by charity in our common use of

the word, almsgiving, but love in its fullest meaning; true love

to God and man. Without this, the most glorious gifts are of no

account to us, of no esteem in the sight of God. A clear head

and a deep understanding, are of no value without a benevolent

and charitable heart. There may be an open and lavish hand,

where there is not a liberal and charitable heart. Doing good to

others will do none to us, if it be not done from love to God,

and good-will to men. If we give away all we have, while we

withhold the heart from God, it will not profit. Nor even the

most painful sufferings. How are those deluded who look for

acceptance and reward for their good works, which are as scanty

and defective as they are corrupt and selfish!
4-7 Some of the effects of charity are stated, that we may know

whether we have this grace; and that if we have not, we may not

rest till we have it. This love is a clear proof of

regeneration, and is a touchstone of our professed faith in

Christ. In this beautiful description of the nature and effects

of love, it is meant to show the Corinthians that their conduct

had, in many respects, been a contrast to it. Charity is an

utter enemy to selfishness; it does not desire or seek its own

praise, or honour, or profit, or pleasure. Not that charity

destroys all regard to ourselves, or that the charitable man

should neglect himself and all his interests. But charity never

seeks its own to the hurt of others, or to neglect others. It

ever prefers the welfare of others to its private advantage. How

good-natured and amiable is Christian charity! How excellent

would Christianity appear to the world, if those who profess it

were more under this Divine principle, and paid due regard to

the command on which its blessed Author laid the chief stress!

Let us ask whether this Divine love dwells in our hearts. Has

this principle guided us into becoming behaviour to all men? Are

we willing to lay aside selfish objects and aims? Here is a call

to watchfulness, diligence, and prayer.
8-13 Charity is much to be preferred to the gifts on which the

Corinthians prided themselves. From its longer continuance. It

is a grace, lasting as eternity. The present state is a state of

childhood, the future that of manhood. Such is the difference

between earth and heaven. What narrow views, what confused

notions of things, have children when compared with grown men!

Thus shall we think of our most valued gifts of this world, when

we come to heaven. All things are dark and confused now,

compared with what they will be hereafter. They can only be seen

as by the reflection in a mirror, or in the description of a

riddle; but hereafter our knowledge will be free from all

obscurity and error. It is the light of heaven only, that will

remove all clouds and darkness that hide the face of God from

us. To sum up the excellences of charity, it is preferred not

only to gifts, but to other graces, to faith and hope. Faith

fixes on the Divine revelation, and assents thereto, relying on

the Divine Redeemer. Hope fastens on future happiness, and waits

for that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual

sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and

hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made

perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall

perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing

the best below! God is love, #1Jo 4:8,16|. Where God is to be

seen as he is, and face to face, there charity is in its

greatest height; there only will it be perfected.

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