Meditation for Monday

Charity never faileth, but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall cease. 1 Corinthians 13:8

Some hardy little shrubs grew along the path behind the old schoolhouse, and we brushed past them as we made our way to play in the woods behind. We noticed those shrubs looked the same every year, never seeming to grow or shrink. Although they were shorter than the goldenrod that grew along the same path, these shrubs were different. The goldenrod, clovers, and other grasses that grew along the same path sprang up each spring, flourished through the growing season, then died in the fall. They were good for only one season. Those shrubs, on the other hand, were permanent, leafing in the spring, dropping their leaves in the fall, and enduring through the snowdrifts of winter to releaf the next spring. As far as I know, those shrubs are there yet. They remind me of love as the constant and eternal feature of all that we have in Christ.

Our text speaks of prophecies failing. Prophecies were integral to the early days of Christianity, as God would reveal His truth to faithful men. But as the Word of God was delivered, as the writings of the apostles filled the canon of Scripture, there came at time when prophecies had no more purpose. The Bible being completed, the Holy Spirit had no new revelations to impart. The revelations each of us receive nowadays come as the Holy Spirit instructs us from the Word of God as already delivered. We do not need prophecies anymore. But we need love.

Neither do we need the gift of tongues. This gift of languages was given at the time of Pentecost to deliver the Gospel message to all of those who heard the apostles preach. This gift continued for some time in some areas, as God proved the authenticity of what His people were delivering. These were real languages, not the gibberish featured by the charismatic organizations around us. And they were not intended to prove some advanced form of spirituality, as those charismatics claim. This gift soon became unnecessary as the Gospel spread, as people shared the message far and wide with others in their own tongues. Because this gift became unnecessary, it has ceased. But love has not.

The vanishing away of knowledge will take a little longer, but it too shall occur. Our text is speaking of our earthly knowledge, that which we have learned from Scripture, from study, from ministry and Bible studies, from experience. This knowledge provides the foundation for our Christian life, with instruction, encouragement, correction, and inspiration as we make our way through our sojourn here. But this knowledge is imperfect, flawed by our failing memories, our inability to understand, and our own ideas and impressions. We need perfect knowledge in the Glory, and we shall have it, leaving behind the imperfect knowledge that we now possess. But love will never be left behind.

The love of Christ that constrains us in time will only grow and flourish as we enter eternity, leaving behind those things that are no longer needed. -Jim MacIntosh

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