1 Corinthians 13:13
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I. IS THE ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLE OF ALL GENUINE RELIGION. We love God because He first loved us. This affection is in every case called forth into its strength by the manifested affection of the Redeemer. Here, then, is a test for universal use in self-examination. It is love that makes the Christian. It is not talent (ver 1). It is not gifts (ver. 2). It is not merit (ver. 3).
II. IS THE PRINCIPLE OF ALL GENUINE SOCIAL LIFE. "If God so loves us, we ought also to love one another." Christians —
1. Are the children of one Father's household, and hence must love each other as kindred.
2. Are under equal exposures. The world drives up against them on the outside; they should therefore organise for mutual defence.
3. Have all the same work; and it is time we comforted each other with a comparison of tasks and of patience under them.
III. IS THE PRINCIPLE OF EMINENT ZEAL.
1. There is no comfort in work where there is not love as the motive of it. God loved the world; Christ loved the souls He died to redeem; Christians are moved by love for those around them; or else the work is drudgery, and can never claim blessing.
2. What will not love do and dare? With only an earthly object Love swam the Hellespont, and gave a name to every hero who holds out a torch. With no more than filial strength, it sent Coriolanus back from treason at the gates, and delivered Rome from downfall.
3. But then, how gentle this love is also! This is the only natural force that works by tenderness. It made Paul weep, it filled the eyes of Jesus with tears. Yet there is no effeminacy in it. John, who spoke most about it, was a "son of thunder."
4. Such love is effective when everything else would fail. "I came to break your head," once said a rough man to Whitefield, with a big stone in hand; "but by the grace of God you have broken my heart."
IV. IS THE PRINCIPLE OF HEAVENLY ENJOYMENT. This wonderful charity issues in a completeness at the limit of life, that the life itself which it tenanted never knew nor even suspected: "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part," etc.
(C. S. Robinson, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.