I Corinthians 13:1-7,13
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. 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. 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.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I hope some of you are going “Huh? What?” to those verses up there. That’s probably because of the Old English from the King James Version of the bible. This is a famous chapter about Love.
Lots and lots of marriage ceremonies use these words. But wait a minute. You don’t see the word ‘Love’ even once? Shame on you.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with “Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, does not seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” So on and so forth. That sounds really good. Righteous, even. But for me, in context of how we use the word ‘LOVE’ today, people don’t get the gravity of what those words actually say.
These days, we use ‘love’ to explain a lovey dovey happy feeling inside that is an outcome rather than a cause. An Outcome!? A Feeling!? Shame on you again. People (old people especially) that have been through tough times know that love is not backing out of a relationship even when outcome or feeling says differently. It could be any love relationship; spouse, family, friends, car, house, or even for your country. It means Choosing and Standing Firm. Choice is not an outcome, choice happens right at the beginning before any action or word can even start.
But I’m sure you’re still wondering, why did I share that verse in King James Version? I’m sure you can see, the difference is the word Charity. Have you ever heard that ‘God Is Charity’? No? Me neither.
Think about this, as I said earlier, these days love is a feeling. Charity, however, is action, not a feeling. These days charity means giving to the poor. It also means losing something for someone else. A LOSS! The moment we hear the word charity, we cringe inside. Why? Because it is in our culture to ‘look out for number one’, me. Ouch. We’re just more used to saying “I’m already running low this month” rather than “I can skip one lunch so that you can have one”.
Think about this. In your mind, I’m sure you have two very different definitions of Love and Charity. List them down. Could be feeling, action, point of view, outcome, choice, giving, how much of giving, when, who, what, how low one stoops, how much patience needed, yada yada yada… I dunno how you want to compare those two words. Anyway! Now comparatively, answer me this “God is -”?
Some of you can say that charity is a quality that comes out of love and all that, which is totally true. But people like the word love and not the word charity! You know, I do see God more as an actions kind of guy. Not only that, He can be angry, sad, happy, proud, or ashamed of me, but He will still work miracles around me and through me. He still makes sure I’m well and healthy and clothes me and feeds me and allows me to have friends and family. Even when He knows I’m disobeying Him, or when I’m an idiot, or when I’m even trying to run away from Him. What is that? Is that a strong feeling towards me? Or a choice: That I’m His son no matter what.
This is a good reminder for me that love is not a feeling but an action. And it’s not even an action based on an outcome. Love is just an action because of choice: A responsibility. An oath. A sacrifice. A LOSS! A devotion. A hope. Despite everything or anything that has happened or might happen. Wow. “I love you” is now “I choose you” and not “I feel for you,” or “I prefer you the most”. A union in marriage with this kind of love sounds very powerful to me. Same as in family and in friendship.
“If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, does not seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… But now faith, hope, and love remain-these three. The greatest of these is love.”
That sounds pretty different now doesn’t it?