1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,…
Meekness is a great part of the Christian spirit (Matthew 11). And meekness, as it respects injuries received from men, is called long-suffering, the fruit of the true Christian spirit (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:1, 2; Colossians 3:12). Note —
I. SOME OF THE KINDS OF INJURIES THAT WE MAY RECEIVE FROM OTHERS. Some injure others —
1. In their estates by unfairness and dishonesty in their dealings.
2. In their good name, by reproaching or speaking evil of them behind their backs.
3. In their thoughts, by unjustly entertaining a low esteem of them (Job 5:21; Psalm 140:3).
4. In their injurious treatment.
II. HOW SUCH INJURIES OUGHT MEEKLY TO BE BORNE.
1. The nature of the duty enjoined. It implies that injuries should be borne —
(1) Without doing anything to revenge them.
(2) With the continuance of love in the heart, and without those passions that tend to interrupt and destroy it.
(3) Without our losing the quietness and repose of our own minds and hearts (Luke 21:19).
(4) With willingness to suffer much in our interests and feelings for the sake of peace, rather than do what we have opportunity, and perhaps the right, to do in defending ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:7).
2. Why it is called long-suffering.
(1) Because we ought meekly to bear not only a small injury, but also a good deal of injurious treatment from others.
(2) Because in some cases we should be willing to suffer a great while in our interests, before we improve opportunities of righting ourselves.
III. HOW THAT LOVE, WHICH IS THE SUM OF THE CHRISTIAN SPIRIT, WILL DISPOSE US MEEKLY TO BEAR SUCH INJURIES.
1. Love to God and Christ has a tendency to dispose us to this; for it —
(1) Disposes us to imitate Him, and therefore disposes us to such long-suffering as He manifests (Exodus 34:6; Romans 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:12-16).
(2) Disposes us thus to express our gratitude for His long-suffering exercised toward us.
(3) Tends to humility, which is one main root of a meek and long-suffering spirit (Ephesians 4:2).
(4) Disposes men to have regard to the hand of God in the injuries they suffer, and not only to the hand of man, and meekly to submit to His will therein (2 Samuel 16:5, 10).
(5) Sets us very much above the injuries of men.
(a) Because nothing can ever really hurt those that are the true friends of God (Romans 8:28; 1 Peter 3:13).
(b) Because the more we love God, the more we shall place all our happiness in Him.
2. Love to our neighbour will dispose us to the same. Long-suffering and forbearance are always the fruit of love (Ephesians 4:1, 2; Proverbs 10:12).Conclusion: The subject —
1. Exhorts us all to the duty of meekly bearing the injuries that may be received from others. Consider —
(1) The example that Christ has set us (2 Corinthians 10:1). He meekly bore innumerable and very great injuries from men.
(2) If we are not disposed meekly to bear injuries, we are not fitted to live in the world, for in it we must expect to meet with many injuries from men (Matthew 10:16).
(3) In this way we shall be most above injuries. He that has established such a spirit that the injuries received from others do not disturb the calmness of his mind, lives, as it were, out of their reach.
(4) The spirit of Christian long-suffering, and of meekness in bearing injuries, is a mark of true greatness of soul (Proverbs 16:32; Proverbs 14:29; James 3:13).
(5) The spirit of Christian long-suffering and meekness is commended to us by the example of the saints.
(6) This is the way to be rewarded with the exercise of the Divine long-suffering toward us (Psalm 18:25, 26; Matthew 7:2, 14, 15).
2. But some, in their hearts, may object —
(1) That the injuries they receive from men are intolerable.
(a) Do you think the injuries you have received from your fellow-man are more than you have offered to God?
(b) Do you not hope that as God hitherto has, so He will still bear with you in all this, and that notwithstanding all, He will exercise toward you His infinite love and favour?
(c) When you think of such long-suffering on God's part, do you not approve of it, and think well of it, and that it is not only worthy and excellent, but exceeding glorious?
(d) If such a course be excellent and worthy to be approved of in God, why is it not so in yourself?
(e) Would you be willing, for all the future, that God should no longer bear with the injuries you may offer Him, and the offences you commit against Him?
(f) Did Christ turn again upon those who injured and insulted and trod on Him, when He was here below; and was He not injured far more grievously than ever you have been?
(2) That those who have injured you, persist in it, and do not at all repent, but go on doing it still. But what opportunity could there be for long-suffering, if injury were not persisted in long?
(3) That your enemies will be encouraged to go on with their injuries. But you do not know this, for you have not an insight into the future, nor into the hearts of men. And, beside, God will undertake for you if you obey His commands; and He is more able to put a stop to the wrath of man than you are (Romans 12:19).
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,