It took place years ago when the children were in elementary school. Jim was asked to go and preach for another missionary in Ireland. After talking and planning the meeting Jim asked if we all could go. He said that would work out fine and we went.
This turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. The couple had been in Ireland a number of years and were well aware of what we were going through being in a foreign country without family. They loved us and showed us every kindness, it was like being at my grandmother’s house (she was a great Christian lady). This couple was actually living true Biblical charity. It is a funny thing that I do not recall what they looked like but rather I remember how they loved us with a true brotherly love.
I have read I Corinthians 13 many times before, as I am sure you have, yet when I went to study this passage I was reminded of just how important charity (“agape” love) is.
Verse 1-3 shows us the importance of charity -
You are basically an empty vessel making
noise when your works 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.”
You can be the wisest person yet,
but without charity you are nothing.
“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.”
You can give to others or even be a martyr,
yet it profits you nothing without charity.
“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.”
Before we go to the next few verses let me ask you this - if the members of your church were asked to give the name of a person in your church who possessed the most characteristics of charity, would it be you? Or are you one that attends church and only talks to their select few? We are to love all the brethren. There is no room in the church for cliches or “special friends.” All throughout the New Testament the believers were of one accord.
Next we see the characteristics of charity in verses 4-8.
Charity is patient and kind - “suffereth long, and is kind.” Charity is not covetous - “envieth not.” Charity is humble - “vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” Charity is becoming - “doth not behave itself unseemly.” Charity is not self consumed - “seeketh not her own.” Charity is not exasperated easily - “not easily provoked.” Charity thinks well of others - “thinketh no evil.” Charity rejoices in the truth and not in iniquity. Charity quietly covers a multitude of sins - “beareth all things.” Charity has faith - “believeth all things.” Charity has good expectations - “hopeth all things.” Charity has fortitude - “endureth all things.” Charity is efficient - “never faileth.”
The truth about charity is that it shows strength - strength to do what is right, which takes humility and commitment.
We talk about “Great Christians” and we look up to them and read books about them. But WHY don’t we just work at being one?
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”Philippians 2:1-4
By Lori Males
The Males have been church planters out of the Cleveland Baptist Church for over twenty-five years. They have seen two churches started in Scotland, one in West Virginia, and are currently looking to start a fifth church in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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