Wednesday, October 18, 2017

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 -- On the More Excellent Way

"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."
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

In the last chapter, Paul talked about amazing gifts (prophecy, miracles, etc.) and how we should seek them in our lives.  Then he said that there was a more excellent way.  This is what he says is the more excellent way.

The way we use the word charity in our modern world is a little bit different than Paul intends here, which we can see in the third verse.  Charity isn't bestowing all our goods to feed the poor, although that is a good thing, among all the other good things that Paul mentions, like prophecy, knowledge, faith, sacrifice.  And these are amazing things, as are the things that he mentioned in the last chapter.  What could possibly nullify all of these and make them "nothing"?

The answer is, which we also read about elsewhere in the scriptures, is that "charity is the pure love of Christ" (Moroni 7:47).  It is the lack of that pure love that can make all of those amazing and miraculous other things (that we *should* seek) seem to be nothing.  ... And that's a huge challenge sometimes.  It's not even always easy to love those closest to us, let alone love our enemies, as Christ asks.  And yet, without learning that love, the rest of our work on our other amazing talents profits us nothing.

This, of course, doesn't mean that all is lost if we are used to being generally grumpy or insular, or if we yell at other people in traffic. :)  We have time and space to learn these things... that's what life is for.  But, eventually, we need to learn to have out "hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another" (Mosiah 18:21).  And, you know, just in case we don't have a 300 year lifespan ahead of us, we should probably get started now.  Maybe the first step is just being polite to a telemarketer, or smiling at the person checking out our groceries.  We can graduate to more advanced things when we're ready. :)

Today, let's work on learning to love the people around us.  Let's develop our desire for unity, and work on being kind, even to people that don't agree with us, politically, religiously, or otherwise.  As we do so, all of those other cool talents we have will mean much more, and we'll be learning what Lehi called the greatest of all gifts, and partaking of God's love in our own lives and sharing it with others.

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