~~ a devotional
I Corinthians 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
The word “charity,” in the New King James Version (NKJV), is translated “love.” Thus, in this passage written by Paul to the Corinthians, the two words might be used interchangeably. Apparently, there were many issues concerning the Christians at Corinth. In chapter 13, Paul addresses the need for love to abound. He notes a number of achievements to be worked toward as Christians in Christ’s church; then he cautions that without “charity” or “love” none of these is worth anything in Christ’s church. Though one may attain a high level of honor, without love, that person is nothing in God’s eyes.
How often do we, today, teach the importance of “charity” or “love?” Love, or charity, should be a frequent topic of our Bible lessons. It takes extensive study on the topic to exhibit the love Christ had, and has, for His church.
Love is one character trait deserving of frequent address. Too often we “go through the motions” but they mean nothing to us. Verse 2 says:
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”–I Corinthians 13:2–NKJV.
Though it is possible to have faith enough to accomplish any feat—with God’s help–if I have not ”charity” or “love,” faith profits me nothing.
Faith, hope, and love are the three most essential characteristics of a Christian. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17–NKJV). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1—NKJV) Faith is instilled by hearing, reading, and learning the word of God. It is important to follow hearing with study in order to learn the true meaning of the scripture presented. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15–KJV). When we hear the Word, that hearing must be followed by our own private study to ensure we understand what is being said, when it was said, to whom, and about what. Thus, we learn the true meaning of the scripture uttered in our hearing.
The more we study God’s Word, the more it impresses upon us the need for love in our own character. Jesus said:
43 — “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy,”
44 – “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you;”
45 – “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
46 – “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”
47 – “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”
The more we try to emulate Christ, the more love we will extend love to others. It is a tall order to “love our enemies and do good to them.” This tells us, if we have not love we are not emulating Christ—we are but pretenders. This pretense means nothing to God and will not ensure entry into heaven. We must grow as Christians if we are to hold the love for others that Jesus requires.
A new Christian has learned to love him-/herself enough to want to spend eternity with God and Christ. A mature Christian has grown in the emulation of Christ so that love is evident. Christ laid down His life to save us. How many of us would do the same?
Photo Above: by reenablack @pixabay.com.