1 CORINTHIANS 13
1 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.
Love seeks with all its power to cover a multitude of sins - not to obscure, or condone, or ignore them - but to bring about their wholesome covering in a Christ-like way. There must be a close and affectionate oneness and mutual protection among us, such as the world could never know. Or, we just do not have the truth, and we are not the children of God.
There must be a mutual recognition of weakness and a mutual desire to strengthen and help, and not to expose and condemn. There must be no fleshly antagonism. All problems must be handled in the spirit and according to the Law of Christ.
There must be the quiet, peaceful, beautiful unity of mutual love and self-sacrifice. If we cannot rise up to this of our natural fleshly selves, if we do not have the wisdom to subdue the flesh, and discipline and train ourselves to this, then we do not have the mind of Christ, and we are none of his.
So frequently, we need the exhortation in scripture: take heed, watch, always be aware, alert, observant, thinking, meditating, contemplating about the important things - the spiritual things. Take heed for every danger and pitfall, from within ourselves and from without, not in fear and timidity, but in wisdom and enlightenment, always walking carefully according to the light.
"If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light. If a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him."
We have no light in ourselves.
Whenever we are not carefully watching and observing the divine light, and following it, we are stumbling, though it may seem we are sailing along very smoothly. For we are following the flesh, and there is no good in the flesh-no light.
Every act, every word, every thought involves purpose and motive. That purpose and motive must be either carnal or spiritual. There is no neutral ground. We have no spiritual momentum of our own. It must come continuously from without, by continually following the light. The moment we forget, we revert to the flesh. Therefore, the exhortation,
"Watch and pray always."
Bro Growcott - Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
''Though I Give My Body to Be Burned''
Martyrdom during the second seal period (Rev 6)
Such "miserable sinners," styling themselves "christians," abound in our time; multitudes of whom, tired of the troubles of life, would joyfully suffer death under the delusion that by giving their worthless bodies to be burned, they would by a brief torment acquire posthumous notoriety, and hide a multitude of sins. All this voluntary martyrdom was the result of ignorance and misdirected zeal.
It was no proof of the sufferers being Christ's Brethren. We may admit the piety and sincerity of many of them; but Paul has taught us that giving the body to be burned is no equivalent for the want of that "love," which he, after the teaching of the Christ, says is "the fulfilling of the law" -- hoping and believing all the things testified in the truth (1 Cor. 13). Martyrdom, then, is no proof of a man's being in Christ; and without being in him, he cannot be a christadelphian.
The most it proves is the sincerity and devotion of the martyr to his profession, whatever that may be. Hence, the martyrdom of Huss, Jerome, Cranmer, Servetus, and such like, proved the sincerity of their anti-romish and anti-calvinistic opinions; it did not alter the fact of their being eminently pious members of the Apostasy; the stain of which cannot be obliterated by body-burning, but only by an intelligent belief and obedience of the truth.
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
We are in a very disjointed condition at present. Men are on all hands imperfect, and, of course, brethren too; and if we do not clothe ourselves with something of divine magnanimity that puts up with the frailties and shortcomings of men, we shall never get on at all.
We have to shut our eyes to a great deal. We need not give countenance to faults, but we must not be too critical; we must forbear much and pass things by, or we shall only make a bad job worse. Charity hides a multitude of sins. It exhibits solicitude towards one's neighbour; it looks not only to one's own things, but about the things of others and is rather prone to put a good construction (where such is possible) upon a man's actions, than a bad one.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
3. -- The Apostolic Ministry.
To make the communities of Christ's brethren effective for their objects, Christ, by the Spirit, appointed and qualified a variety of officials, in the first century, whom Paul enumerates as -- 1, apostles; 2, prophets; 3, teachers; 4, miracles; 5, gifts of healing; 6, helps; 7, governments; 8, diversity of tongues. Their appointment by the Spirit made them the responsible overseers of the one body, whom the members were bound to obey. This ministration of the Spirit, and this presence of divine authority in the ecclesias, continued during the days of the apostles, and the generation next ensuing.
After that, an apostacy arose in the apostolic community, after the analogy of the case of Israel, in their first settlement of Canaan; who "served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord that he did for Israel" (Jude vii).
The apostacy prevailed more and more, as the Apostles, by the spirit, predicted would be the case (2 Tim. iv 1-4 ; ii 17), until all trace of primitive truth disappeared, and the spirit of the Lord was withdrawn from all association with an empty Christian name. Whatever genuine profession may have existed since then, has not been honoured by a return of the Spirit's witnessing and governing presence.
The Ecclesial Guide
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Put on the new man
Put on, therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering. . . . Above all these things put on love, which is the bond (or girdle) of perfectness" (Col. 3:10-14, R. V.).
Without love our spiritual attire is incomplete. What is love? For the truth on this vital question let us turn to Paul, and not to unenlightened man. Wrong thoughts on this subject have led to cruel mistakes. Imperfect knowledge has caused many an exemplary brother to be unjustly condemned, and many a worldling (in whom the genuine article has been wanting) to be lauded to the skies.
A man can give all his possessions to the poor, and his body to be burned in the cause of religion, and yet lack love. What is Bible love? It is a product of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), it is of God (1 Jno. 4:7). It is no blind feeling inherent in the flesh-its root is not there. It is an intelligent, discriminating, truth-loving, truth-obeying quantity (1 Cor. 13).
It is exceedingly comprehensive in its attentions-it does not confine itself to one object, but extends to many. It is a something which even goes out towards our enemies-to those who hate us. It is a principle which rises above, nay, which controls all our natural affections, curbing some and stimulating others. There is, perhaps, no better definition of love-the love which is of God-than that given by John,
"This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments."
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, March 1910