1 Corinthians 13:1-13
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.…
Two introductory truths are suggested by the context —
1. That there is great diversity in the talents with which heaven has endowed mankind. Some men are distinguished by one faculty and some by another. Some by the faculty of creating, some by the faculty of combining, some by the faculty of oratorically presenting, thought. These faculties exist in various degrees of strength; in some they are dwarfish, in some gigantic.
2. That without charity the highest kind and degree of talent is of little worth. Note —
I. THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR ELOQUENCE OF THE HIGHEST TYPE TO EXIST WITHOUT CHARITY. We find it —
1. In party politics. Many party speeches, fashioned after the highest models and delivered with all the graces of the art, beat with selfish ambition and burn with envious spleen.
2. In party theology. Some of the discourses on polemic theology are, in all the attributes of true eloquence, unexcelled, but they are all aglow with acrimonious zeal for certain dogmas.
3. In party Churchism.
II. THAT ELOQUENCE OF THE HIGHEST TYPE WITHOUT CHARITY IS UTTERLY WORTHLESS — "brass," giving out a mere clanking sound. It is worthless —
1. In itself. What would you give for two pieces of brass forming a cymbal. Whatever their marketable value may be, for musical purposes they are not worth a "penny whistle." What worth is there in an organism unless it has life? and what worth is there in sentences, however eloquent, unless they have charity?
2. In its influence. The sounds you get out of the cymbal produce rather an irritating than an inspiring or calming influence upon the listener. What moral good can speeches without charity accomplish? Eloquence without charity is like the roar of a winter's north-easter, irritating and destructive; but eloquence with charity is like the quiet south-wester in spring, rearming all things into life and touching all things into beauty.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.