This chapter consists of 3 sections. The first section discusses the futility in what all Christians do when what they does not come from a heart of love. Paul begins this chapter with those who are all about tongues. But Paul warns that speaking in tongues is nothing more than a bunch of annoying noise when love is absent.
And to the faith, prophet and knowledge crowd, he reduces their exercises to “nothing”; as in might-as-well-stay-home-drink-beer-and-watch-the-game nothing. And to those who think staying home drinking beer and watching the game is just fine as long as one loves his neighbor by redistributing to them other people’s money, he says such also gains nothing. In fact, forget the faux compassion of giving someone else's possessions to the poor, Paul actually proclaims that even if we did make a sacrifice personally, even if we sacrificed every material thing we owned--a feat far and above the trite and easy symbolism of redistribution--we still gain nothing. I gather from this that not only do we not “gain” the object of our enterprise--actually helping the poor--but we also gain nothing for ourselves. And if that isn’t enough Paul ups the ante further by including our own flesh in that sacrifice, and in a most painful way, by fire. To be sure, love is key in understanding the Christian life.
This chapter goes well beyond the sentimental wedding gift wall plaque; it demands a question. That question is, “What must I do to love", the answer to which is of the utmost importance. The first step to accomplishing that feat would be to correctly and accurately grasp the meaning Paul was attaching to the word in his attempts to convey this truth. Almost as if anticipating this problem, Paul takes the time to point out some of the fruit that will and will not accompany the person who has begun to grasp it. I will be taking a look at some of those fruit in a forth coming post.
Majesty and Humility - David's Psalm 8 begins with the glorious, "O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens...