1 Corinthians 13:3
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 profits me nothing.
I. THERE MAY BE GREAT PERFORMANCES AND SUFFERINGS WITHOUT LOVE.
1. Great performances (Philippians 3:3; Luke 18:11, 12). Many have been exceeding magnificent in their gifts for pious and charitable uses from fear of hell, hoping thereby to make atonement for their sins, others from pride, or from a desire for reputation.
2. Great sufferings. Many have undertaken wearisome pilgrimages, or spent their lives in deserts, or suffered death, of whom we have no reason to think they had any sincere love in their hearts. In the Crusades thousands went voluntarily to all the dangers of the conflict, in the hope of thus securing the pardon of their sires and the rewards of glory hereafter. And history tells us of some that have yielded themselves to voluntary death, out of mere obstinacy of spirit. Many among the heathen have died for their country, and many as martyrs for a false faith.
II. WHATEVER MEN MAY DO OR SUFFER, THEY CANNOT MAKE UP FOR THE WANT OF LOVE.
1. It is not the work or the suffering that is, in itself, worth anything in the sight of God. "The Lord looketh not on the outward appearance, but on the heart."
2. Whatever is done or suffered, yet if the heart is withheld from God, there is nothing really given to Him.
3. Love is the sum of all that God requires of us. And it is absurd to suppose that anything can make up for the want of that which is the sum of all that God requires. As to things without the heart, God speaks of them as not being the things that He has required (Isaiah 1:12), and demands that the heart be given to Him, if we would have the external offering accepted.
4. If we make a great show of respect and love to God, in the outward actions, while there is no sincerity in the heart, it is but hypocrisy and practical lying unto the Holy One (Psalm 78:36).
5. Whatever may be done or suffered, if there be no sincerity in the heart, it is all but an offering to some idol. In all such offerings, something is virtually worshipped; and whatever it is, be it self, or our fellow-men, or the world, that is allowed to usurp the place that should be given to God, and to receive the offerings that should be made to Him.Conclusion: It becomes us to use the subject —
1. In the way of self-examination. If it be indeed so — that all we can do or suffer is in vain, if we have not sincere love to God in the heart — then it should put us upon searching ourselves whether or no we have this love in sincerity in our hearts. There are these things that belong to sincerity —
(1) Truth — that is, that there be that truly in the heart of which there is the appearance and show in the outward action (Psalm 51:6; John 1:47).
(2) Freedom. Christ is chosen and followed because He is loved.
(3) Integrity — wholeness. Where this sincerity exists, God is sought, and religion is chosen with the whole heart.
2. To convince the unregenerate of their lost condition. If by all you can do or suffer, you cannot make up for the want of love, then it will follow that you are in an undone condition till you have obtained God's regenerating grace to renew a right spirit within you.
3. To exhort all earnestly to cherish sincere Christian love in their hearts. If it be so, that this is of such great and absolute necessity, seek it with diligence and prayer. God only can bestow it.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.