1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,…
1. Each man's thoughts are a world to himself. We all of us have an interior world to govern, and he is the only king who knows how to rule his thoughts. We are very much influenced by external things, but our true character is found within. It is manufactured in the world of our thoughts, and there we must go to influence it. He whose energy covers his thoughts, covers the whole extent of self.
2. In some degree our thoughts are a more true measure of ourselves than even our actions. Our thoughts are not under the control of human respect. No one knows anything about them. There are thousands of things which we are ashamed to say, or to do, which we are not ashamed to think. It is not easy for our thoughts to be ashamed of themselves. They have no witnesses but God. Religious motives can alone have a jurisdiction over them.
3. If a man habitually has kind thoughts of others, not because he happens to be of an easy-going disposition, but on supernatural motives, that is, as a result of grace, he is not far from being a saint.
4. Kind thoughts imply a great deal of thinking about others. This, in itself, is rare. But they imply also a great deal of thinking about others without the thoughts being judgments of their conduct, or criticisms. This is rarer still. Active-minded people are naturally the most prone to find fault, and such must, therefore, make kind thoughts a defence against self. By sweetening the fountain of their thoughts they will destroy the bitterness of their judgments. But kind thoughts imply a great nearness to, and a close contact with God. Kind thinking is an especial attribute of God, because He is not extreme to mark what is done amiss: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses."
5. Nobody can judge men but God, and we can hardly obtain a higher or more reverent view of God than that which represents Him to us, as judging men with boundless charity.
6. The habit of judging others, that is, of thinking evil, requires a long process to eradicate it. We must concentrate ourselves upon it to keep it in check, and this check is to be found in kind interpretations in suspecting, not evil, but good motives. We must come to esteem very lightly our sharp eye for evil on which we perhaps prided ourselves as cleverness in detecting, or, as we called it, unmasking it. We forget that all this may be, that there is a terrible possibility, or even a probability of its being, a huge uncharitableness. No doubt knowledge of character may be a talent, but it is the hardest talent of all to manage. We are sure to continue to say clever or sharp things as long as we are by way of judging others. Sight is a great blessing, but there are times and places in which it is far more blessed not to see. Of course we are not to grow blind to evil, but we must grow to something higher and something truer than a quickness in detecting or suspecting evil, if we would have anything of that blessed "charity," that love which "thinketh no evil."
7. Have we not always found that, on the whole, our kind interpretations were truer than our harsh ones? What mistakes have we not made in judging others? But have they not almost always been on the side of harshness? We have roused, and perhaps given vent to our righteous indignation. All at once the whole matter is explained in some most simple way, and we are lost in astonishment that we should never have thought of it ourselves. On the other hand, how many times in life have we been wrong, when we put a kind construction on the conduct of others?
8. The practice of kind thoughts tells most decidedly on our spiritual life. It leads to great self-denial about our talents and influence.
9. Thinking no evil, that is, thinking kind thoughts, endows us with great facility in spiritual things. It opens and widens the paths of prayers. It enables us to find God easily, because God is Love.
10. Above all, it is one of the main helps to the complete government of the tongue.
(J. B. Wilkinson, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,