Once a young minister was summing up what he believed was the safest sermon he had ever preached. This had become necessary because certain members of the session had begun looking at him funny, and making comments that had words in them like hypercovenantal and not Klinean, and phrases like “went to seminary with.” So the minister, who had three little mouths to feed, and a sweet wife, starting preaching close to the shore. Paddling close to the beach, as it were.
So this Sunday he had picked as his text 1 Corinthians 13, which every Christian in the world thinks is swell. Robert was just in a temporary expositional hunker down, and intended to remain that way until the storm cleared. And the sermon went great. Love is kind, love is great. But then as he glanced as the last verse of his text, he panicked–and could not believe what he had missed. And there it was, big as anything. And so he started to read it with a quaver in his voice. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is . . .” (1 Cor. 13:13). I am afraid that in his panic, he did something that neither you or I could possibly countenance. Like Peter with the servant girl, he looked at the end of the sentence and substituted faith for charity. What he said was “the greatest of these is faith.”
But after the service, one of the elders took him aside near the drinking fountain. “My boy,” the elder said, “I am afraid we may have misjudged you.”
That minister retired thirty years later after much fruitful ministry, and no scars.