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The End Of The Commandment Is Charity
December 12, 2010
The apostle Peter wrote that we must add virtue to our basic faith in Jesus Christ. To virtue, we must then add knowledge, and to knowledge, we must add temperance, and to temperance, we must add patience, and to that we must add godliness. To godliness we must add brotherly kindness! If we cannot love our brothers, whom we see and interact with, how can we claim a love for God? Brotherly kindness is the next stage in Christian development, and is the step below the pinnacle, which is charity. Charity is love that is not earned or deserved, but love for love's sake. It is like the love that God showed the world while humans wallowed in their sins.
The End Of The Commandment Is Charity
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 12-12-2010
Presented to Load church of Christ on 12-19-2010
2 Peter 1:5 "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."
The last phase of Christian development is charity – love that is not earned or deserved. Charity is love for love’s sake, because love is the right thing to do. Once we have developed the attributes of God, and have understood how to love our brother, then we can learn to love our enemies, and those we do not know. Charity is godly love.
1 Timothy 1:5 "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
As Paul told Timothy, charity is the end of the commandment - the sign of spiritual maturity. Once we achieve charity in our lives, we are where we need to be as Christians.
1 Peter 4:8 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."
As humans, we look at our fellow human beings and think that they are sinners, and not worthy of our time and attention. Yet, Peter said that charity shall cover the multitude of sins. God is keeping account of the good and evil done in this life. It is not our job to keep track of every little sin of every person that we know.
Colossians 3:14 "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."
Charity is the glue that holds us all together. It is that which proves our spiritual maturity. If it covers a multitude of sins, we can concentrate on working together, rather than criticizing and condemning others.
1 Corinthians 16:14 "Let all your things be done with charity."
All that we do is to be done with charity. If we do not have charity, we are not doing what the Lord wants us to do. If we cannot do it with charity in our hearts, we should not do it!
1 Corinthians 8:1 "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him."
We put such stock in knowledge that it often goes to our heads. We begin to think that knowledge for knowledge’s sake is the end-all, and the be-all. However, we forget that charity is the end of the commandment, not knowledge. In fact, knowledge came early in our Christian development, while charity is the pinnacle, the summit, the highest achievement.
When we have charity, we think on the welfare of others, and extend a hand to the fallen to help them up. We consider our brothers and sisters in Christ, and work to make their lives better, and more fulfilling. We regard the sinners, and seek the lost, helping the fallen to reach higher ground. As we saw in the lesson brother love, if we love God, we will love our brother, and our neighbor as we love self.
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.”
The men of the apostle Paul’s generation desired to speak in foreign languages, but Paul said that if a man had not charity, the ability to speak in tongues was wasted, meaningless.
2 “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
Paul reiterates that if a person has all knowledge of present, past, and future, and even has a full measure of faith, but has not charity, it amounts to nothing for the possessor of that knowledge.
“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.”
Some have mistaken giving for charity. How they have done so is beyond me, as Paul plainly said that if a man gives everything he has to feed the poor, and even offers his own life as a sacrifice, it is for naught, if done without charity. It may benefit the recipient, but not the giver.
We see that charity is different than giving. We can give for a multitude of reasons, but it does not benefit us personally, unless it is done as an act of true charity – love for love’s sake.
4 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
Charity proves itself through its actions: longsuffering, which simply means suffering a long time; is kind, which we have discussed – a charitable person treats others tenderly, attends to their needs and wants; does not envy, cares not for what others possess, or have achieved; vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, means that with charity, one does not think too highly of self, is not arrogant, or haughty; does not behave itself unseemly means that with charity, we conduct ourselves in a proper manner; seeks not her own means that a charitable person thinks about the well-being of others before self, and looks for ways to improve the lives of others; is not easily provoked means that with charity we try to keep an even temper, and don’t flare up easily; thinks no evil means that our hearts and minds are upon good things, not evil things; rejoices not in inquity means that we wish to see truth, honesty, and equity with all, and we take no delight in the opposite occurrences; bears all things refers to patience and perseverance; believes all things means that we don’t doubt the truths of God and His son, and their abilities and promises; hopes all things means that we never lose sight of the promised goals; endures all things says that we never let persecutions and troubles deter us from those goals.
The person who has learned what charity is, and has achieved it in his or her life, has all of the attributes that are given to Paul’s personification of charity. Are we there yet? Actually, Paul addresses this in his next several sentences of this letter.
1 Corinthians 13:8 “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
All of the above has to do with spiritual immaturity versus maturity. The desire to prophesy, speak in foreign languages, or have special knowledge are all indications of spiritual immaturity. That which is perfect means that which has achieved maturity. In the same way that childish speech, understanding, and thought are abandoned when one reaches maturity, so are the fleshly desires for spiritual gifts put away in favor of something that reflects spiritual maturity – charity!
12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
When spiritually immature, the image in the mirror is not clear. When mature, we see clearly.
13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Three things endure when all else falls by the wayside – faith, hope and charity, with charity holding the greater importance in our lives.
1 Corinthians 14:1 "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy."
Paul went on to say that we must pursue charity, and, although spiritual gifts are desirable, prophesying is better than speaking in foreign languages. The Corinthians seemed to have considered speaking in other languages the ultimate gift. Without charity, all else is superficial.