Devotional: October 6th
The greatest of these is charity. - 1 Corinthians 13:13.
THIS will appear in five respects:-First, as we have already remarked in the previous meditation, From the testimony of Scripture.
Secondly, Greatest in its divine resemblance. We do not resemble God by faith, or by hope, but we may resemble him by love, for “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him;” “and if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Therefore, says the apostle, “Be ye followers of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.”
Thirdly, Greatest in its disinterested nature. Faith and hope are both beneficial, but the advantage turns upon believers. They “believe to the saving of the soul,”-that is, their own soul; and they are “filled with all joy and peace in believing.” But “charity seeketh not her own;” she teacheth every man to “look not on his own things, but also on the things of others:” if it begins at home it does not end there. It extends its concern to friends, and relations, and neighbours; to the church, to the nation, and to the world. It may have its peculiar regards, and in its exercises it may be limited to opportunities, means, and resources; but this principle is of universal aim and tendency; and wherever it finds a human being it finds a brother, whatever his country, complexion, or condition may be. And while there are any “sitting in darkness and in the region of the shadow of death,” its prayer will be, “Oh, send out thy light and thy truth, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.”
Fourthly, Greatest in the eminence it produces. Paul enjoins the Philippians to think not only on whatsoever things are honest, and just, and pure, but also on whatsoever things are lovely and of good report; and he says to the Romans, “He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men.”
Fifthly, Greatest in its duration. “Charity never faileth;” faith and hope fail. Faith and hope, like tutors and governors, attend us while we are under age, but leave us when we enter upon our heavenly inheritance. They are like the scaffolding necessary to the erection of the building, which, when it is completed, is laid aside, while the fair mansion stands the wonder of all beholders; or they are like to a vessel which conveys Christians to the other side of the river and lands them safely there, and then it is wanted no longer, for they do not wish to go back again now that they have reached the better country. But they have reached that rest now. If any thing could make them willing to enter the vessel to return again, it would be the sanctuary in which they have so often seen his power and glory; but they are now in his temple above. They have now joined the spirits of just men made perfect.
Now their faith is turned into sight, and hope into enjoyment; while love will not only continue but increase; every hinderance to it will then be removed, and it will then be made perfect, while there will be fresh excitements to draw it forth to God forever.
Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord. - Isaiah 57:19.
TWO things are here to be regarded. First, The mercy of the Proclamation. “Peace, peace.” Now from this word the gospel derives its name and its quality, as it is written, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace.” It is well known that among the Hebrews and the Easterns the word peace was frequently used to express wealth or happiness at large, or what we commonly mean by prosperity. Thus Joseph said to Pharaoh, “God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Thus Artaxerxes superscribed his letter, “And at such a time, peace.” Thus David says, “Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.” But the term is here taken in its more appropriate significancy, as intended to convey to us the idea of reconciliation.
The case is this: By our sins and transgressions we had provoked the anger of Jehovah, and he could have justly destroyed us. For we deserved his wrath, and had no claims upon his pity; and there was nothing before us but a “certain fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries.” But “God, who was rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us,” provided for our deliverance from the wrath to come, by sending his only begotten Son into the world “not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” “He made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” And “that he might reconcile us unto God by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby, and came and preached peace to them which were afar off, and to them which are nigh.” This proclamation makes known to us the fact that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, and that now he is waiting to be gracious; and that he will be merciful to our unrighteousness; and our sins and iniquities he will remember no more.
Observe, secondly, The persons to whom this proclamation is addressed. It is not to a few, but to many; not to one class, but to all persons of every condition. “Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near.” This regards the Jews and the Gentiles.
The Israelites were, as it is said in the Psalms, “a people near unto him, “because his residence was among them. There were his oracles, his ministers, his temple; on the other hand, the Gentiles were far off, because they were destitute of all this, living “without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.” This distinction between Jews and Gentiles continued till the death of our Saviour, for when he was upon earth he was the minister of the circumcision only, but after his death, when he had “made peace by the blood of his cross,” and when he was risen from the dead, then his language accorded with the nature of the evangelical dispensation which had now commenced.
He therefore gave a command to his disciples to go and make this proclamation unto the world: “Preach,” said he, “repentance and remission of sins among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” “And they went forth preaching everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following.”
Receive the newest devotional each week in your inbox by joining the "" subscription list. Enter your email address below, click "Go!" and we will send you a confirmation email. Follow the instructions in the email to confirm your addition to this list.