1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.Even with great faith, Paul would be nothing if he did not have charity.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
I've always been puzzled over the insistence by some folks that "faith alone" is the key to salvation. It puzzles me because the only time that phrase or anything close to it occurs in the Bible is when the Good Word warns us that justification is NOT by faith only: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (James 2:24)
Yes, yes, yes, I understand that true faith leads us to Christ and to become more like Him in having charity, and that it leads to the works that are emphasized in so many parts of the Bible. But Paul is not writing to believers on autopilot who have nothing to worry abut once they believe. He is writing to believers who need to grow and repent and seek after the best gifts, such as charity, as part of their personal development in the journey through mortality. It is a journey where we can go forward or, if we choose to, regress and fall from grace. Paul just finished warning the Corinthian Christians about the danger of complacency in 1 Cor. 10 ("Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"), and now reminds us that seeking charity is part of our journey. An essential part.