1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.…
I. GIFTS ARE OF LESS VALUE THAN GRACES. Still they are of great value. Do the best with all you have. Eloquence is useful in proclaiming truth. Insight is helpful to the teacher. Knowledge is needful: we cannot love an unknown person. Faith works wonders (Hebrews 6.). Almsgiving and faithfulness unto death are required. But all these without love are worthless in God's sight. Yet, how often intellect, genius, and learning win the higher praises! A bright lad may be a bad boy. Without love teachers may fail.
II. CHRISTIAN LOVE IS THE CHIEF GRACE. It is very different from natural love to kindred and to the world. It comes from God (Romans 5:5). It is to be shown to men. God requires it; His children need it; we are better, holier, happier for manifesting it. Love to men shows our love to God, as stars reflect the light of the sun. Love is here personified, for no Christian is yet so perfect as to sit for the portrait (ver. 4). Love did not write the old proverb, "Forbearance ceases to be a virtue." Kindness makes real gentlemen. Envy leads to unfairness and cruelty. Jealousy gives the eye a wrong cast. Love hushes boasting, reduces self-display, and takes the wind out of puffing pride. It imparts magnanimity, meekness, and a true estimate of one's self (Romans 12:16-18; ver. 5). In the school of love good behaviour and unselfishness are taught. Her pupils do not take mean advantage of each other, nor quick offence at trifles, nor keep a note-book of evil things. They learn politeness, fairness, self-possession, purity, and candour (ver. 6). Love gives joy. Iniquity brings sorrow. We must hate sin (Romans 12:9) while loving the sinner. A loving heart is a home for truth. Falsehood knocks there in vain. Love and truth are boon companions (ver. 7). It is hard to say, "Let the righteous smite me" (Psalm 141:5), and to bear a rebuke; it is harder to believe in the justice of it, to hope well of people who injure us, and to wait patiently for God to bring good out of our troubles (Genesis 45:5; Genesis 1:20). Love makes us docile, tolerant, trustful and trustworthy, hopeful, patient. It beareth — roofs over — things which should not be exposed. It is the ivy growing over castles once noisy with crimes (1 Peter 4:8).
III. LOVE IS THE CEASELESS GRACE (ver. 8). It is "a flower whose petals never fall off." In heaven we shall not need the special uses of gifts which are now meant for the Church on earth. These uses shall cease (vers. 9, 10). The partial loses itself in the complete. Dawn passes into day. Steps to heaven will be put away when we get there, and have all things that are promised. We are here to grow in knowledge in childhood and employ our gifts till we come to the full stature of Christian manhood (ver. 11; Ephesians 4:11-13). Faith now helps us to see images of heavenly things; but it will end in sight. Still there will always be knowledge and trust. Hope will result in possession, and still there will be expectation (vers. 12, 13).
(W. M. Blackburn, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.