Charity is introduced to us in 1 Corinthians in chapter 8. Most people would not think that this subject matter would be with things offered to idols. However, charity in this case is contrasted with knowledge. When we deal with other people, there are fundamentals that are unchanging and cannot be compromised. There are areas of life that are not essential and must be dealt with in the understanding of love. Love is the basic principle in every aspect of our life.
Dealing with brethren, charity is to be involved. Remember it was the second command and all the law and the prophets hang upon two laws. This is the principle behind the Golden Rule: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). When considering the context of 1 Corinthians 8 this is the background of how we are to deal with one another. While it was true with the eating of meats, it will also be true when we deal with any matter with other people. Love ought to guide us when dealing with others inside or outside the church. We need to be reminded of these things from time to time.
Let us continue to think about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In the midst of the discussion of miraculous manifestation of the Spirit Paul gives an in-depth treaty of charity. The people from Corinth had a problem when dealing with others. This can be seen through out the book. It can be seen in dealing with every problem and every question that Paul, by inspiration, deals with. In the 12th chapter the subject of the different gifts of the Spirit are enumerated and explained. In the latter part of the chapter the body is used to illustrate how the church works. There is to be no division within the church and they were all to work together. We need to learn this lesson. It may be harder for some of us than for others. There is to be no division and we are to all work together not for our glory but to the glory of God. The miraculous gifts were for the church to work together. If we make application of the principles contained within the chapter then our natural gifts, that each one of us have, are to be using to the glory God and to build up His church.
Notice how chapter 12 ends, “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (12:31). That more excellent way has charity as it base. The Holy Spirit guided Paul to show us in chapter 13 that no matter what we do, if love is not a part of it then we are no more than a “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” He then is guided to tell us and all people that if love is not a part of our lives – no matter what Gifts we have – we are nothing without love. The third illustration is what we would call charitable acts. If we perform charitable acts all day long and love is not the motivating factor, then we are nothing – absolutely nothing. If one sees how important love is, then he ought to be a part of the congregation of God’s people
As we journey onward in our study of love (or charity) Paul next defines love, not as in a dictionary but by describing the attributes of love. Are we patience with people as we want them to be patience with us? Are we kind to others as we want them to be kind toward us? Do we want what others want, and if so why? Do we want to have the pre-eminence in the actions of the church? Do we want to be noticed for what we have done? If that is the case then that is not the kind of love that the Holy Spirit has written for us. Do we behave ourselves with other people? Are we too much of a flirt? Then are we seeking our own glory? Are we tooting our own horn? Maybe we need to toot the horn for others and the work that they are doing! What do we think of others? Is the first thought in our mind that what they have done or said is evil? Do we rejoice when others are sinning and going contrary to what God’s Word says? Brethren we need to be careful and learn to be more like what God wants us to be. Let us love more.