Summary: To establish the preeminence, potentials, and the permanence of charity (love). Charity must hold first place and influence all that we do in word and deed unto God, the Lord, and all people. Without charity, we make nothing, are nothing, and profiteth in nothing.
1. Charity's Preeminence
2. Charity's Potentials
3. Charity's Permanence
1. In this lesson today, we will be discussing the theme: "Charity's Preeminence." Paul wrote to the church at Corinth regarding: "The Preeminence of Charity." The word "preeminence" means, to take first place, the highest of all things. We often speak of the "Preeminence of Christ." But little or none to charity's preeminence, which Christ has shown unto us; and, commanded that we bestow to one another, as saints in the kingdom of God. Where love abounds, much more does faith and hope abound. By this, the Lord declared: "That all men shall know that we are His disciples, if we have (charity) or love one to another," John 13:34-35.
2. First, we will consider "the preeminence of charity." By this we mean, how greater love is to all things. Paul provides three illustrations in describing loves' preeminence. He wrote: 1) It is above the eloquence of the gift of tongues of men and angels; 2) It is above the gift of prophecy, the understanding of all mysteries and all knowledge and having all faith to move mountains; and 3) It is more necessary than giving all our goods to feed the poor, and giving our body to be burned. Without love as its motivation, these acts or deeds are empty and vain. Without charity, we "making nothing, are nothing, and profiteth in nothing."
3. Second, we will notice "the potentials of charity." Paul shows the readers how love ought to behave, how charity suffers long and is kind; how it envieth not, it does not parade or boast itself, and love is not puffed up with pride. Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not (easily) provoked, and thinks no evil. It does not rejoice in iniquity (unrighteousness) but rejoices in the truth; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes in all things, and endures all things. If husbands and wives did these things, their marriage would be a blessing. If the Lord's churches did these things, their assemblies would be filled. If members did these things, there would be peace and fellowship among brothers and sisters. Maybe if we can reach these potentials, we could be a blessing on our jobs, in our schools and universities, and even in our neighborhoods.
4. Lastly, we will investigate the "permanence of charity." Paul wrote: "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they shall fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. We know in part and prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child... I put away childish things... And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. With this brief introduction, let's consider our first point.
BODY OF LESSON
I CHARITY'S PREEMINENCE
A. Charity's preeminence. It is wise to consider the word "preeminence" before proceeding any further in this lesson. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary catalogs the noun: as the quality or state of being preeminent, excellence, superbness, superiority, perfection, or holding first in rank. See Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Observe--
1. The beloved apostle Paul mentioned Christ as having the first place. He wrote: "And He (Christ) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence," Colossians 1:18. The word preeminence in Gr., is proteuo ro pro-tyü'-o, which means to be first (in rank or influence):—have the preference. Paul describes himself as being: "the chief (protos) or worst of all sinners," 1 Timothy 1:15. He wrote elsewhere of Christ's preeminence--
d. The entire creation is subject unto Him: "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him," 1 Peter 3:22; Ephesians 1:20-21; Hebrews 1:6; Colossians 2:9-10.
e. He is the first, the last, that which is to come, the Almighty, Revelation 1:8.
2. Spiritual gifts. After outlining and prioritizing all the spiritual gifts, Paul wrote of the "excellent way." Observe--
a. Covet the best gift. Paul penned: "But covet the best gifts earnestly: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way," 1 Corinthians 12:31.
b. Pursue love. He wrote: "Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy," 1 Corinthians 14:1.