He is Love
Love/Charity/Compassion - this is our most important commandment
This is the first time I have written about and explored a passage from the Bible, so please bear with me.
I’d like to start with a short opening prayer firstly before diving straight into the topic.
‘Abba*, our Heavenly Father: I thank you so much that you are with me and that you encourage me every day. I thank you that you led me to this passage and spurred me on to explore through my writing and I pray that whatever I write here may bless those who read it. I pray that the reader will be able to take something from it and that it will encourage them in their walk with you, to glorify you in all that they do. I thank you for our saviour, your one begotten son, Yeshua** – The Christ. I thank you that He died for our sins and transgressions so that we may once again be joined with you completely. I pray that you will bless the hearts of these readers, that by Ruach-El***, they may be enlightened or reminded of your teaching, Lord. And I pray these things in His name. Amen.’
*The Hebrew name for God, our Father
**The Hebrew name for Jesus Christ
***The Hebrew name for The Holy Spirit
The passage I was drawn to, and thus will write about here is a very well known one actually, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. However, I will be using the KJV for our studies rather than the NIV as I feel it has a more encompassing meaning and brings us more to think of what God is truly saying here. I will cross reference where relevant, in order to give a broader scope of what we are studying here in this passage.
The passage starts:
‘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.’
Now let us just stop there at the end of verse 3 and explore these three very strong comparisons first before moving further down this beautiful passage. I realise some people can’t stand reading old English as they can find it somewhat of a different language at times but please bear with me. I will break it down.
Some of you may be wondering as to why I’ve chosen this translation over the others out there. One reason being, that the NIV, for example, uses love instead of the word charity. Yes, they ultimately have the same meaning but they often spur different contexts in our mind. Love, often makes us think more of our personal relationships and showing love for those around us and this translation is often used at weddings and such events.
But by using charity here, Paul is not talking about just giving something material to the poor but much more than that. This is made evident by his third comparison when he says, ‘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.’
He is essentially talking about love, but a whole other level of love than our usual interpretation. He is talking about charity in the old use of the word, which is our current knowledge of modern day ‘love’ and modern day ‘charity’ all wrapped into one. It is the combination of the two that make this passage so powerful, as they come together so clearly through his explanation of what this charity is and how important it is that we have it within us in order to pour out this to our fellow human brothers and sisters. And, notice that I say human and not Christian brothers and sisters here, because this charity should extend to all of God's children - even those who do not know Him yet. Paul is very clearly echoing the commandment that Jesus gave to love our neighbour.
This means to ultimately give from what’s in our hearts, more than anything. No matter what we are able to give, so long as we give with true charity/love/compassion. For example, in God's word it says the following, to select a few:
"As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 NIV translation
"A new commandment I give
unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one
another." John 13:34 KJV translation
"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8 AKJV translation
We can clearly see here that again and again, regardless of the speciffic translation or the disciple/writer, we are taught to give love if nothing else and to give all we have in love. Not for human gratification, but for oneness with God and His creations.
Another reoccurring theme, along the same lines (if you'll excuse the pun), is that we are judged on what is in our hearts. Those actions in themselves, do not save us. Each and every one of us is and has been imperfect since the fall of Adam and Eve. We all make mistakes. We all have impure thoughts from time to time. We are tempted each and every day by the Devil, just as Christ was. The difference being that He could turn away from Christ indefinitely, we are not always strong enough to do that. We need Christ in our hearts as He is our only hope in life. And when I say life, I mean the full extent of it - our current state and the here-after when we are judged to either be by our Father's side or suffer complete separation from Him for eternity. It is only through the forgiveness Christ gives, by divine authority, that we can reach eternal Glory with God and claim our inheritance as His children. And the main commandment we should keep if nothing else is true love, absolute unconditional charity and compassion.
If you are new to Christianity or are not a Christian at all but just "stumbled" across this piece, you may be wondering why. Why can't we reach God without Christ? If I'm a goodish person, why wouldn't I go to heaven? Why is love so important? And many more questions. I know I had plenty of questions when I became a Christian, a little over a year and a half ago.
The reason that we will face separation from God, without Christ is as I said - because no amount of works alone would be enough. God cannot be in the face of sin. He loves us, but He will not tolerate sin. This is why Jesus came as a human but with all the powers and divinity of God, to save us. To teach, suffer, die and rise again in order to defeat death and defeat sin. He was a perfect sacrifice that endured great pain in order to save us.
If we look to a few examples in the scriptures again, we can see some fine examples about how works alone can't save us and how Jesus teaches that it is what is in the heart that counts.
“These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." Isaiah 29:13 NIV translation
"Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.
Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’" Mark 7:15
"For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” Mark 7:21-23 NIV translation
Questions are great! And, I'm not just saying that because I had them and I want to be accepted or seem normal. The Bible itself tells us about how God's prophets asked questions. Questions about Him, about why things in their lives were the way they were, why they suffered, when will things just turn out 'right', and so on. God answers each of their questions and gives them guidance. However, He will answer them, only if they come to Him to ask. He may know your thoughts and every hair on your head but He won't just fix things if you won't even look for His face. If we come and submit ourselves to God completely, He will do what is right for us.
"For everyone who exalts them self will be humbled, and they who humble themselves, will be exalted." Luke 14:12 NIV translation
Prayer is key. Prayer is almost like having God on speed dial. You can do it in your head or out loud, in a group or alone. Prayer is simply by definition: communication with God. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - and it doesn't have to be structured. God listens, and then He answers. But caution here, it is not always in the way that you may expect.
Although, do trust me when I say, He does know best and He has a plan for you, that He has tailored with Charity - especially for you.
The reason why Charity/love is the most important commandment of all, is because God is just that. He is love and everything he does and everything He creates - He does with all powerful love. And, in our walk with God, we should aspire to get as close to Him as possible by attempting to mirror His behaviour and all that He is. Obviously as things stand, we are imperfect - but if we only trust in Christ to save us and we keep this commandment, we will surely be blessed by The Holy Spirit and enjoy eternal Glory with our Father.
Here is one final thought to conclude:
"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." 1 Corinthians 13:8 KJV translation
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV translation
May this piece have blessed you in some way. May the Lord be with you. Amen.
Written by Aiysha Jebali, through the blessing of The Holy Spirit.
Links you may be interested in
- God is Our Shelter
This is a poem I wrote whilst homeless in Aberdeen. I was given a place to sleep and food to eat by a Church run homelessness outreach. It was a real blessing to all service users.
I wrote this the night that I became a Christian and felt The Holy Spirit.
- Abba, Yeshua, Ruach-El
This is a poem I wrote about my growing in Faith during a difficult time.
- Love & Light
I wrote this when staying at a friend's house. We had been doing some Bible study as she was having a difficult time and was feeling more distant from the Gospel. I wrote this as an encouragement to her. I hope it may be of some use to you too.