Wednesday, March 11, 2015
So, we’ve achieved all but the last part – and I want to start this in a negative way, defining how we are without charity:
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. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 KJV)
We can, with due diligence, add to ourselves all the things Peter listed:
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness;
. . . and until we add that last:
and to brotherly kindness charity. (2 Peter 1:5-7 KJV)
. . . we have nothing.
So, why did we do all the faith building, knowledge gathering, soul cleansing, leveling out, patience learning, good working, brotherly loving – and still end up with NOTHING?!?!?
Not understanding the love God has for us, and returning that love to Him.
Now that took some soul-searching on my part to know I did not have it. I had problems getting past brotherly kindness, much less accepting that the love God has for us must be given back through Him to others. Bottom line, that’s my goal as a follower of Christ.
This isn’t the same “charity” we think of when we donate to good causes. This is Greek, ἀγάπη (Strong’s G26), one of three words for love used in the New Testament. This is not the friendship love that gave Philadelphia its name, nor the physical love of Eros. This is the spiritual love that God has for us and expects us to extend to others.
In that thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians, Paul continues after telling us what we miss by not having love. He describes what God’s love is like. But there can be no greater love example than God’s love for us:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)
The Greek translated “charity” in Paul’s letter is the same Greek translated “love” in this verse. The same Greek translated “love” in John’s letter:
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)
If we cannot love in that same manner, we have not arrived at the end of our journey:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21 KJV)
That is the end of the series. Please, do not place any blame on my pastor who gave two awesome sermons on these eight items. His sermons made me think hard about those steps in my own life. My journey is not complete – but I’m still moving forward.