1 Corinthians 13

We begin here, a very misunderstood, and mistranslated study: That is that this is often termed the "love" chapter, but it actually refers to exactly what it says, charity. The meaning here is exactly what it is today for charity, the true essence of love.
Is not charity, (charitableness) often the least practiced, and hardest of the graces? Giving to the poor is a major teaching throughout the Bible. There is more said on this subject than on most other major doctrines, yet it is the least accomplished among the brethren.
We give to many things, many causes, but ought always to give to a need. ("alms" in Mt. 6). This sort of giving, aside from tithes and offerings, is the only giving endorsed in the New Testament!

The point here is, though I am good with words, gifted with a "golden tongue" it is nothing without a charitable, compassionate heart. It begins with compassion in the heart, and comes through the hand in an act of charitable alms. The noise of speech is nothing until it is backed up by the compassion of the heart. Even ethereal gifts, though bestowed by God, mean little without a heart of compassion and a hand of giving. "Nothing" to be recognized or exalted, as we often do with those so possessed of great gifts. We are nothing without charity.

Here we enter the realm of the heart; we can, and do give much to charity without the compassion of the heart. Charity begins in the heart. Much of our giving is for our own glory, or to magnify others, or for rewarding a favor or thought toward us, this is not true charity, neither is it true giving even. We see this much today from Hollywood; these "givers" desire publicity, a name called "philanthropist" for their almsdeeds. Though the money helps the cause, it is given wrongly, for one's own glory or profit. Though I give all, if I have not the right attitude in giving, "it profiteth me nothing."

Now, another phase of charity, and what is does, or does not (v. 4). The works of, and workings of, charity. This is a true measure of our giving, does it measure up? It is patient in its duration; it is given rightly, in kindness, without malice or hope of gain; it does not toot a horn before it, drawing attention to the giver; and is not proud and boastful in its operation.
To continue the definition of true charity, we see it does not misbehave itself, or is not represented by the hopes of attracting the attentions of the recipient, for favors owed, etc.; never seeks its own glory or gain, as already mentioned, but repeated for emphasis; and it is not easily dissuaded, or turned back in its cause; and it never even nurtures the thought of any other evil not mentioned, if there be any. Charity takes no pleasure in evil, and in falsehood, but is open and honest in all dealings. Charity does not look for "loopholes" in its methods, but functions in integrity and sincerity. It bears all, believes all, hopes all, and endures all for charities’ sake, and not for the sake of self. Charity carries its own armor, and is discouraged by nothing. It never fails in its purpose, because Truth cannot fail. Though many gifts do fail, charity is not affected by their demise. It is not tarnished, nor marred by any things outside of itself. Even the honest gifts, run their course, and become unuseful when we reach the blessed shores of Heaven, but charity endures, it lasts forever, because it is love in the heart. Though needs cease, compassion never will, never can.

Charity is eternal, not temporal. We live in a world of temporal things, all which will pass away with time, but charity, or this kind of love, never fails, it goes on and on forever. When the time comes, these things reach their peak and their usefulness is fulfilled, as tools and blessings for the saints, but charity will go on with us to glory, and beyond!

Here, in v. 11, Paul begins an illustration to make his point strong, we outgrow many things, but never outgrow our need for true charity; it is in our hearts, although the hand may cease. It is God-given, and therefore everlasting, it is God within us, the hope of glory. God is love, (1 Jn. 4:8), He "so loved the world that He gave..." (Jn. 3:16), and keeps on giving. This is the heart of charity. When we learn to give, unconditionally, as God gives, we begin to understand charity.
These things are hard to be understood, because our vision is fogged over in this life, because we are but flesh. Just as we have limited sight, we also have limited knowledge, and cannot fully comprehend the grace of giving, of charity, until that blessed day that we shall see Christ, charity incarnate! Yes, His life was a life of constant giving, and it fit all the previous conditions of true charity. “God is love” and Christ is charity.
What a statement in v. 13! The emphasis is on what we consider to be the least important of these graces. Though mentioned last, it is exalted to the highest position. ("the first shall be last, and the last first") , Charity, in its proper respect, is greater than them all; it is Christ, the King of Love, and the creator and executer of compassions; it is Christ in one word and action.

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