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Blog - Without Charity We are Nothing
"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. 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, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (1Co 13:1-3) As I was reading through 1Corinthians 13 this morning, the profundity of the need for charity (Christian love...Man's love of God and his neighbor - OED) in our lives was really impressed upon me. While it is true that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Joh 4:24), and that we are to "keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you" (1Co 11:2), and that in order to love God we must keep His commandments (Joh 14:15,21); there is a lot more to Christianity than mechanical obedience to God's law. The Pharisees were big on keeping the letter of the law; Jesus said to them "ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin" (Mat 23:23), but they had "omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith" (Mat 23:23) "and the love of God" (Luk 11:42). They had scrupulously kept every little letter of the law, but had omitted the weightier matters of it like judgment, mercy, faith, and the love of God. They had majored on the minors, strained at gnats while swallowing camels, and made proverbial mountains out of mole hills. Jesus didn't say that they should have left off on paying tithes of mint and anise and cummin in order to do judgment, mercy, faith, and the love of God, but rather told them, "these ought ye to have done, AND not to leave the other undone" (Mat 23:23). In other words, they should have done them all; they should have kept the law to the letter, but also had mercy on others and faith and love toward God. As Paul wrote so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13, we can have the outward show of gifts, knowledge, and sacrifice, but if it is not accompanied by true Christian love toward God and our neighbor, we are nothing. What if we were fluent and could preach the gospel in 14 different languages and even could speak in the tongues of angels? If it is done without charity, it is nothing but a bunch of noise. What if we had complete understanding and knowledge of all scripture? What if we had enough faith to move mountains? If we had all that, but lacked love toward our neighbor, we are nothing. What if we were the world's most notorious philanthropists and we gave away our entire fortunes to the poor? What if we went to the stake to give our bodies to be burned alive for all the infinite understanding and knowledge we had? If we had not tender care, compassion, and mercy toward our fellow man, we are nothing. Even if we had all those things: if we did not suffer long with people, if we were not kind, if we envied others, if we boasted and bragged on ourselves (vaunting), if we were easily provoked by our brethren, friends, family, or neighbors; if we thought evil of others, if we rejoiced in iniquity and enjoyed sin, and if we lacked basic faith and hope toward God (1Co 13:4-7), we are nothing. Let's make sure we keep paying the tithes of mint, anise, and cummin, so to speak; but let's more importantly not leave the weightier matters of the law undone like judgment, mercy, faith, the love of God, and the greatest of all, charity (1Co 13:13).