1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,…
Why has the Church assigned this chapter to Quinquagesima Sunday, the Sunday immediately preceding the season of Lent? We shall be able to answer that question if we consider what the season of Lent means, and why it has been set apart as a season of special humiliation, self-mortification, and prayer. Lent is the introduction to Good Friday and Easter Day. It is meant to prepare us better to realise and understand the great mystery of godliness, the unsearchable riches of God's truth, so beautifully summed up in the words of Jesus (Luke 18:31-33). We cannot take one step forward into the knowledge of God's truth without love. Love is the very first condition without which it is impossible to see even the outside of the great mystery of godliness. Let a man look at the Cross of Christ, and without the light of love it will be foolishness to him, Or let him look at the power of God manifested in the resurrection of Christ, and without the light of love: it will be a riddle to him. Love is the microscope which reveals the hidden and. deep things which the careless eye scans without any sense of their inexpressible beauty and value. You have noticed, have you not, on a calm and sunny day, how softly and how beautifully the clear bright sky above us is reflected in the still surface of some deep pool of water? The sky, you know, is, as it were, received into the bosom of the water. Now, God's truth is just like the sky above; and the heart that is full of love — love to God and love to man — the heart that is steeped in love is just like the still surface of the deep and steady pool. It can receive the truth into itself and reflect it. If we suffer the gusts of passion, of hatred, and envy, and malice, and uncharitableness, and ill-will to sweep over our hearts and ruffle them, we shall become quite incapable of receiving and discerning the truth. We shall be no longer like the steady lake which receives the glorious sky so beautifully into its bosom, and mirrors it back so faithfully. Surely, then, we have great need to pray for love; we have great need to pray that God will send His Holy Spirit, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity. Where shall we find anything fairer, anything pleasanter to behold or more joyful to possess than charity? Is selfishness, or ill-will, or pride, or vanity, or any other thing that is not of God, either more beautiful to look upon, or more delightful to hold, than charity? Oh, then, let us, as the apostle bids in the first words of the next chapter, "follow after charity." So doing, we shall be laying hold of that which is imperishable.
(Canon D. J. Vaughan.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,