Tag Archives: I Corinthians 13

Morning Thoughts (I Corinthians 13:12)

Morning ThoughtsI Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

This morning, man’s pride is more and more revealed during this “information age.” As the flow of information increases and the ease of acquiring it rises, man’s ego swells even more to think of how smart he is or how smart we have become in humanity at large. Some of the simple and easy points of Scripture reveal that man knows nothing as he should. (I Corinthians 8:2, 10:12) Therefore, the best way to really and truly learn and know things is to confess that we do not know everything we should: remain a student. By keeping a student’s mindset, our lives are better equipped to learn and really “get it” in life, our spiritual warfare especially. However, even with a student’s mindset, some things will remain beyond our grasp until our lives here have passed away.

Our study verse is found in what is commonly referred to as the “charity” or “love” chapter. Paul has seemingly paused his general flow of thought about church function in chapters 12 and 14 for an important point. That important point is that love and charity must be infused in all that we do – church actions and functions included – for us to hope to receive the Almighty’s favour in our walk. Yet, Paul seemingly makes an aside from this aside within the 13th chapter to talk about seemingly different things from verses 9-12. Yet, just as charity is not really an aside from discussions about church function, neither is Paul’s discussion about knowledge in this section really disjointed from his discussion about charity.

Rather, Paul’s point about knowledge and charity is that they do not necessarily go together but often do. For example, he makes the simple point that knowledge puffeth up, while charity does not. So, do we take from this that we must have little to no knowledge to be able to love and express charity as we should? No, Paul is rather cautioning us from letting our knowledge nurture a mindset that would diminish charity in our lives. However, consider what added knowledge can do. Husbands and wives are to dwell together according to knowledge. (I Peter 3:7) What does that mean? Put simply, the more husbands and wives learn about each other, the better they can live and help one another: show love and charity in the marriage.

Currently, I have been married 10.5 years, and though someone probably could not have convinced me on my wedding day, I love my wife more now than I did that day. Why? Simply put, I know her better, can better avoid hurting her and further better help her in what I do. Since I know more about her now, I know which buttons to push and which not to push. So it is with our lives here, the more we know about the Lord and His ways, the better we can show and express our love to Him for all that we learn He has done, is doing, and will continue to do for us. As Paul closes his thought about knowledge gains helping our love actions, he makes a profound statement that we would like to consider.

The last phrase of our verse says that we shall know as we are known. Many times, people want to know if we will know each other in heaven, and this verse is used to bolster the idea that we will know each other there. While I do believe that we shall know one another in heaven as one star differeth from another star in glory, this verse does not prove that. Consider the context and the language leading to that phrase. Right now, Paul says, we know in part, see in part, etc. Right now, there is a dark glass over us that prevents full and untrammeled sight into something above us. What is Paul talking about? He is talking about man’s current inability while in flesh on earth to see and know the fulness and glory of heaven and its Ruler.

The who in the expression that we will know is our Lord Himself. Paul says we will know Him, but the wondrous part is that we will know Him as He knows us! Consider this profound thought for a minute! How well does God know us? Scripture describes this knowledge in many illustrious ways. He knows our thoughts before we have them and our steps before we take them. (Psalm 139) He knows not just the thoughts but also the intents of our hearts, whilst also knowing the fulness of our frame to discern both the seen (joints and marrow) and unseen (soul and spirit). (Hebrews 4:12) There is not a thing about us that escapes His understanding and sight.

Many times I get asked “God and heaven questions” which many times generate my most common answer, “I don’t know.” I cannot say for sure what it will be like, what He will look like, what it will feel like, etc. since so much of that experience defies my imagination to contemplate. Yet, the most interesting question along these lines comes from those that do not believe our doctrine when in conversation with them. When posed with thoughts about election, predestination, and particular redemption, they will ask something to the effect, “If God chose and purposed some and not others, while loving some and not others but you say all were completely depraved, why were those chosen?” The question drives to the heart of God’s purposes and will.

Why did God choose those members of His family? Why were they the everlastingly loved, and the rest left in their state? To those questions, my answer is simply that it was God’s will who He loved, and beyond that I cannot say why. This is part of what I do not yet know about God. What does this line of thinking correlate to? It correlates to the thoughts and intents of God’s heart. He knows mine, but Paul says that one day we will know His. We will be able to look upon Him and know why He loves us. The infinite richness of His heart will be manifested unto us. He knows how many hairs are on my head right now, and though God Himself is a Spirit (John 4:24), I will one day be able to look upon that infinite fulness and glory and know His form as He knows mine.

Though we will not go to heaven to be gods, we will be the full and complete family of God. As such, we will know our Patriarch. The Ancient of Days that inhabits eternity will be known to us as we are known to Him. Wow! What a mind-bending and absolutely glorious contemplation! So now the question becomes, “Good and fine preacher. What does knowing more about Him do for love?”

When we get to heaven, we will love Him as He ought to be loved. We will spend the endless ages of eternity in total satisfaction giving Him the honour world without end that is rightfully His. As the songwriter penned, “when I see Thee as Thou art, I’ll praise Thee as I ought.” For the first time in our existence, we will pierce through the dark veil that separates this world from that one and give Him perfection as He ought to have. How will such perfection be possible? We will be in a state that is not only free from sin but in a state of knowledge that knows exactly what pleases Him fully and wholly. Since living with my wife, I know that some things I like she does not and vice versa.

When my wife cooks fried eggs or eggs benedict, I know they are for me. Why? I am the only one that eats them. She cannot stand them, but out of love she makes them for me. She has learned what I like from living with me, and I likewise have learned what she prefers. In heaven’s bright world, we will know exactly what God desires and live forever with Him according to that knowledge. Therefore, the knowledge boost that comes in the world to come promotes the highest love possible.

Considering what we can know here, we should strive to know Him better today than yesterday. Tomorrow should be better than today. The end of our journey through this vale of tears should mark our highest knowledge of what “He prefers.” That knowledge should incite the highest love and adoration that our lives can offer while housed in this bondage of vanity. May our charity toward one another exceed and abound as we strive to live and learn better about one another to serve one another, but most importantly, may we learn more and more of Him to love Him better and better. To know and understand that He has loved us when we were unlovable is to be able to thank Him, love Him, and serve Him better than before. To know that He keeps us and preserves us forever though we still repeatedly come short is to be able to love Him higher than otherwise. Let us therefore love in both word and deed the One that knows all about us.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (I Corinthians 13:11)

I Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

This morning, there are benefits and drawbacks to each stage of life. One of the benefits of youth is the vitality and energy that accompanies it. Yet, far too often that energy is "wasted on the young" since they do not have a good knowledge base to draw from when using it. On the other hand, the aged many times have the wisdom that comes from years of experience but very little energy left to accompany the increased knowledge and temperance. Yet, one difference between the young and aged is undeniable from Scripture: they do think differently. When you were young, did you ever say you would not end up like your parents? As you grew older, they seemed to get smarter until you might consider it an honour to be even half of what they were. What changed? Some cases might have the parents changing with age (becoming more mature themselves), but so many times, the change comes when the children grow into adults to see just "why" their parents did most of the things that they did.

As Paul comes to our study verse in the midst of the "love chapter" of the Bible, we could draw many different points out from it, but there is really only one that we desire to investigate this morning. Considering the context of this passage, what is the subject under consideration? The entire division is devoted to a discussion of charity (love in action), and as Paul winds the discussion down, he points to a day when charity will be all that remains world without end. To illustrate that point, Paul shows the difference between childish and manly thinking. While some of the thoughts from childhood carry over, many do not make it into adulthood. Likewise, we know some things now about the world to come, but many things will not carry over when our change comes.

As the years pass by and I grow increasingly older (though still not old by many people's estimation), the more I see our culture being overrun by "overgrown children." While their chronology indicates adulthood, their thinking indicates childishness. Even though some aspects of childhood should be kept as we grow older – such as not holding grudges (I Corinthians 14:20) – there are many things that our thinking should change about when developing into adults. As the maturing process takes place, we need to see things in a more developed and thoughtful way, rather than taking the rash and impulsive knee-jerk that seems to be the child's way of rationalizing and deducing things.

Yet, in keeping with the subject of the passage, what about charity needs development in our minds as we grow older? Whether in speaking, thinking, or understanding (Paul lists all three), we need to put away what a child thinks about love in action. How does a child view the subject of love? How do they act on it? While there are cases and examples of children that showed great love and were more the "exception than the rule," we will confine these thoughts to the general principle of the matter. Most children fall into the "puppy dog love" syndrome. Their idea of love equates to the feeling one gets when they hold their first puppy or pet.

While those emotions and feelings are certainly special, that is still a childish understanding of love. Most marriages today seem to fail because people just "don't feel like they did before." Since the feeling is gone, the marriage dissolves. Friends, love – and more especially charity – equates to more than a feeling that is similar to puppy love, yet so many adults today have not put away childish things in that matter. If the feeling departs for a season, a man should understand that love is more than some feeling but a deep-rooted commitment that demands sacrifices in our lives.

Another aspect of childish love is the short-term nature of it. Everything with children seems to be short-term. They get sick quickly. They get well quickly. They get mad in a hurry, but they can make up in a hurry. Sometimes, those "lovey feelings" are the same. How often does a child become bored with a new toy or go from one thing to the next? Childish romances at school sometimes last a day or a week. Someone they could not live without yesterday, they will totally forget about tomorrow. Should our love and charity be such in our homes, marriages, churches, communities, etc? Perish the thought!

One last aspect of childish love before we talk about manly things is that children sometimes sacrifice their morals for "love or affection." How quickly will a child lie to fit in with the crowd? How often will they do something they know to be wrong just to please the girl of their affection? Too many times, childish thinking about affection takes a turn for bad judgment, particularly in the discernment between right and wrong. Again, should this kind of behaviour affect us as adults in the world in which we live?

There is a great danger in thinking that love is a feeling, when that could best be described as being "in love." One thing that I tell couples before I perform a wedding ceremony is that there will be days when they do not feel "in love" with one another. Yet, the vows taken in marriage mean more than the "in love" feeling. The commitment to sacrifice for each other (charity) should mean more than how they feel today. That is manly or grownup thinking that comes with wisdom, seasoning, and maturity. As the marriage pillars seem to crumble in the world today, too many times the reason is that "adult children" are treating their marriage like childish crushes on the playground. Charity demands more deep and grounded commitment than that.

Likewise, there is a great danger when every little problem in a marriage, family, church, etc leads to such an offense that ties are severed. When couples in a marriage fight, that should not immediately signal the end of the marriage, nor should a disagreement in the church fellowship immediately signal severance of fellowship ties. Marriages should be till death do us part, and even heretical thinking deserves two admonitions. Yet, the childish way is to immediately get mad at one another and not talk to one another. The adult thing to do is come together, reason with one another, and seek to arrive at the truth of the situation.

And, as seems so rampant today, childish adults are allowing their immature thinking to cloud the "right vs. wrong" line much like children trying to please each other. Love cannot be shown in a relationship that the Lord calls abominable (homosexuality); love cannot be the reason that marriages fall apart (even though someone may claim to have found their soulmate in someone else). Love cannot be shown by allowing error through the door of churches in the name of "love and peace." Rather, love can be shown in how we deal with any of these situations, but love cannot be shown in those actions themselves. The first is a clear-cut case of unnatural affection, the second is a case of excuse for lustful desire outside of the marriage, and the last is a case of tender cowardice. Love is neither harsh nor cowardly, but in action (charity) is bold to withstand iniquity, but also patient to avoid trouble.

Considering the ultimate example of Charity in our Lord Jesus Christ, He never condoned or excused sin or error, yet He was merciful to those so undeserving of it. While the childish way likes to excuse wrong, He never did. While the childish way does not hold on to things very long, He holds us eternally in His arms. While the childish way acts upon feeling, He acted upon the good pleasure of His will and purpose to fulfill all that He intended to, even when the arrows of pain and death were upon Him. Certainly, the feeling of "puppy dog love" was not apparent on Calvary, particularly with Him feeling what we should have felt, but that never dampened His love for us in the slightest. Therefore, may our thoughts of love, acts of charity, and understanding on the subject be rooted in the commitment and constancy of it, the true source of it, and the moral discernment that comes with it.

In Hope,

Bro Philip