The Limitation of the Robuster Virtues
1 Corinthians 16:14
Let all your things be done with charity.

Let all your things be done with charity. The connection in which this sentence stands suggests the topic. The apostle had been calling the Christians at Corinth to manliness, strong and vigorous action, watchfulness, and firm holding of the faith. He knew well how readily firmness could become stubbornness, and strength roughness. The strong may forget the rights of the weaker brethren, and the manly may fail to realize that full manliness which includes womanly tenderness and gentleness. Therefore, in an all suggestive sentence, he says, "Temper the whole of your relations with charity, heavenly Divine charity," which "hopeth all things, endureth all things, and thinketh no evil." Chrysostom's note on these verses brings out a somewhat different association. It is as follows: - "Now in saying these things, he seems, indeed, to advise; but he is reprimanding them as indolent. Wherefore he saith, Watch, as though they slept; stand, as though they were rocking to and fro; quit you like men, as though they were playing the coward; let all your things be done with charity, as though they were in dissensions. And the first caution refers to the deceivers, viz. watch, stand; the next to those who plot against us, quit you like men; the third to those who make parties and endeavour to distract, let all your things be done with charity, which thing is the bond of perfectness, and the root and fountain of all blessings." In the teaching both of our Lord and of his apostles, the passive and gentle graces were so constantly commended that the enemies of Christianity might easily, and with some show of reason, say that it was a weak, unmanly thing, with yielding and patiently enduring and quietly waiting, as its chief and characteristic virtues. Therefore St. Paul makes so much of his point, that Christianity was the only force that could really and harmoniously culture the full manhood. Only this is true - the supreme grace of Christianity is love, charity, and it must tone and qualify and direct all other graces, all expressions of character in action. Consider -

I. THE TENDENCY OF HUMAN NATURE TO CORRUPT EVERYTHING. All the good things men may possess or attain are in constant peril of running over into extremes and exaggeratiors. Observe two points.

1. A man's strong side becomes inspired by self will, and spoiled.

2. Some sides are unduly cultured by expression, and the whole character is put out of harmony and fair balance. Self reliance, which has a small place in every good character, becomes corrupted into self conceit; and so of other features of character.

II. HOW FAR IS THIS HUMAN NATURE FORCE KEPT IN THE REGENERATE? It might seem that St. Paul's counsel only suited the worldly, and was hardly needed by the Christian. But we have to accept the fact, which both observation and experience attest, that the renewal of the principle on which our life is conducted does not involve an immediate deliverance from the ordinary deteriorating influences which affect men. Christian men's very graces may become so exaggerated as to be really vices. Strong-willed men may "love to have the pre-eminence," and be masterful and inconsiderate. The Christian life in a man ought to hold the evil tendency in strong bonds, but we cannot get free from the evil influence while we dwell in a body and are surrounded by earthly scenes.

III. HOW DOES THE CHRISTIAN SPIRIT AFFECT THIS EVIL? Apply especially to the robuster virtues. Manliness is liable to become masterfulness. Those who can watch come to despise the weak ones who must sleep. The strong try to force the frail to go at their pace, and easily quarrel with them when they cannot. Now, the Christian spirit proposes one effective triumph over all these evils. Tone all your life and relations with charity, which is, as treated in the New Testament, precisely this - consideration for others rather than self. All the evil comes out of thinking of and glorifying self, and the conquest surely comes by thinking of and glorifying others: getting the mind of Christ, who "pleased not himself." - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Let all your things be done with charity.

WEB: Let all that you do be done in love.

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