1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease…
I. AS THE LIVING PRINCIPLE IN THE HEART OF BELIEVERS. In its essence it is the love of God within a man. It may vary indeed in its apparent intensity. It may seem almost extinguished; but, like the fire on the altar of sacrifice, it still exists, and is soon fanned up again into a flame when Jesus smiles. "Of itself," says Poole, "it will never desert a man in this life, unless it be first deserted by him through deadly sin."
II. AS AN ACTIVE GRACE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ON EARTH.
1. View it in any of its manifestations.
(1) Beneficence and self-denying liberality — "the poor ye have always with you"; and a claim ever arises from these.
(2) Forgiveness of injuries, while these abound — and so long as human nature is what it is they will abound — every day affords occasions in which it is called for.
(3) Kindness and forbearance to the faults and failings of others: in the present imperfect state such must ever be expected.
2. Nor less than this is it adapted to all circumstances and situations of life: to the poor and the rich, etc. There is no position in which the believer can possibly be found in which charity will not be an ornament and a delight. It will add glory to, and preserve the soul from, the dangers of the day of prosperity; and it will equally cheer it in the day of adversity.
3. It is adapted to every period of time, to the hour of death, to the day of judgment, yea, to heaven itself.
4. And so, in a more extended sense, and as regards the condition of the Church, no less than in individual cases. It is adapted to times of persecution and to times of peace; when the world frowns or when the world smiles. Charity is the best preservative against, as it is the only cure for, those petty jealousies which equally disgrace the Church and dishonour God.
III. IN SUPPLYING MOTIVES TO EXERTION IN THE REDEEMER'S CAUSE. In its comprehensiveness, it takes in the entire race, and aims at no lower object than to "make known His ways upon earth; His saving health among all nations."
IV. AS TO THE DURABILITY OF ITS EXISTENCE. It will last for ever, and live in heaven, as the life of glory there. Death cannot annihilate it. "Love is heaven, and heaven is love." To have it, therefore, now is to possess the foretaste of eternal joys.
(J. T. Smith, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.