What Matters Most?

The true proficiency of the soul consists not so much in deep thinking, or eloquent speaking, or beautiful writing; as in much and warm loving. Now if you as me in what way this much and warm love may be acquired, I answer, — By resolving to do the will of God, and by watching to do His will as often as occasion offers. Those who truly love God love all good wherever they find it. They seek all good, they always acknowledge and defend all good. They have no quarrels. They bear no envy. O lord, give me more and more of this blessed love! It will be a magnificent comfort in the hour of death to know that we are on our way to be judged by Him whom we have loved above all things. We are not going to a strange country, since it is His country whom we love and who loves us.

St. Teresa

For more about love see:

Hesed–God’s Love in Action

Charity = Love

Learning to Love

Do Unto Others

The great commandment of the Bible is to love. We are to love others as much, maybe even more than we love ourselves. Jesus Himself said:

“… in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

What does this mean in practice? Well, giving others the benefit of the doubt — do you want to be judged according to your worst day or behavior? It means trying to understand different points of view. Don’t you hate it when an acquaintance refuses to even listen to the reasoning behind your ideas? It means being compassionate and slow to become angry. I mess up plenty of times and need forgiveness, not censure, don’t you?

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, FRS (13 December 1815 – 18 July 1881), and English Anglcan priest and church historian puts it this way:

“Love one another in spite of your differences, in spite of your faults. Love one another, and make the best of one another, as He loved us, who for the sake of saving what was good in the human soul, forgot, forgave, put out of sight what was bad–who saw and loved what was good even in the publican Zacheus, even in the penitent Magdalen, even in the expiring malefactor, even in the heretical Samaritan, even in the Pharisee Nicodemus, even in the heathen soldier, even in the outcast Canaanite. It is very easy to fix our attention only on the weak points of those around us, to magnify them, to irritate them, to aggravate them; and by so doing, we can make the burden of life unendurable, and can destroy our own and others’ happiness and usefulness wherever we go. But this was not the love wherewith Christ loved us; this is not the new love wherewith we are to love one another.”

When we love in this way, we are blessed, and we become a blessing to others.

 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing “1 Peter 3:8-10

For more on this topic see:

Little Children, Love One Another

Charity = Love

By Our Love

Keep in Step with the Spirit

In our second church study of the Holy Spirit, we took up a new topic — the fruit of the Spirit.  Good fruit in our lives does not come through self development — it is a gift from God.  Our redemption has a purpose — to transform us into fruit-bearers. This is called sanctification — the process of becoming Christlike.

In Galatians we find a detailed description of what this means:

“So live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:  sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft;  hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy;  drunkenness, orgies and the like.  …..

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. ”  Galatians 16:5-22

You may take note that love is central to the fruit.  The sinful acts listed destroy love, while the fruit of the Spirit increases love.  Why would this be?  Because God is love, and His desire for us as His creation is that we love Him and love one another.  We were made to live, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God.  So,

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:24

In other words, LOVE.

For more on the Fruit of the Spirit see these posts:

Let the Fruit of the Spirit Flow

Martin Luther on the Fruit of the Spirit

Increasing the Fruit

 

 

 

When There is No Clarity Exercise Charity

Let’s face it friends, there are times when there is no clarity.  This pandemic is an example.  We just don’t have enough information to be confident that the right decisions are being made.  We know contagion is spread by close, personal contact … but how close?  It may live on surfaces for a time …. but how long?  Masks might protect us, or at least others… do we wear them all the time?…. only inside?…. only when social distancing isn’t possible?  Gloves are helpful … but only if you change them every time you touch something different.  Infections seem to be declining …. but will there be another wave?  A vaccine is in the offing …. but how long until it can be tested and produced safely?  Certain drugs could help …. or on the other hand, maybe they’re dangerous. We should probably stay home alone …. or only with our families …. or in groups of ten or less …. or gather only outside …  or who knows?

Understandably this is causing a lot of anxiety and disagreement, even in churches.  Can we resume services?  Can we sing?  How do we offer communion?  Do we have to wear masks?  Is it okay to touch doorknobs?  Should overhead fans be turned off?  How far do we sit from one another?  Well, you get the idea.  There are a million questions, and almost as many opinions.  Some want to keep things 100% safe (not possible);  others want to behave as if everything is the same as it was a few months ago (also not possible).

So what should we do? As always pray.  Be considerate of others, regardless of their viewpoint (this is charity, or love).  Be kind, gentle and respectful in expressing our feelings (this is self-control). Put others first — do what you can to allay fear (this is self-sacrifice). Wait before judging because things will become clearer in time (patience).  In other words, practice the fruit of the Spirit (described in Galatians).  This is our calling as followers of Christ.  The crisis can tear us apart, or set us apart.  Let the world see how we love one another.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:3

For more posts on the coronavirus see:

New Month – June 2020 Clearer Vision Because of the Coronavirus

Positive Thinking

The Snare is Broken part 1

For more on the fruit of the Spirit:

Let the Fruit of the Spirit Flow

The Story Isn’t Over ….

Charity = Love

Status

In the Bible, the word which is translated as “charity” is a synonym for love.  I came across this quote.  It was written by Jean Nicolas Grou, who was a Roman Catholic mystic and writer.  I think it does an excellent job of describing the attitudes we must vanquish in order to “love one another.” (John 13:34)  True charity (love) requires us to “put on the mind of Christ.”(1 Corinthians 2:16)

“All extreme sensitiveness, fastidiousness, suspicion, readiness to take offence, and tenacity of what we think we are due, come from self-love, as does the unworthy secret gratification we sometimes feel when another is humbled or mortified;  the cold indifference, the harshness of our criticism, the unfairness and hastiness of our judgments, our bitterness towards those we dislike, and many other faults which must more or less rise up before most men’s conscience, when they question it sincerely as to how far they do indeed love their neighbors as Christ has loved them.  He will root out all dislikes and aversions, all readiness to take offence, all resentments, all bitterness, from the heart which is given up to His guidance.  He will infuse His own tender love for man into His servant’s mind, and teach him to “love his brother as Christ has loved him.”

Jean Nicholas Grou

For another quote by the same author follow this link:

Sin Boldly?

 

More on Loving One Another

Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875) was a priest in the Church of England, as well as a novelist and poet.  In this quote, he urges us to “love one another.”

“Let us see that whenever we have failed to be loving, we have also failed to be wise;  that whenever we have been blind to our neighbors’ interests, we have also been blind to our own;  whenever we have hurt others, we have hurt ourselves still more.  Let all of us at this blessed Whitsuntide, ask forgiveness of God for all acts of malice and  lack of charity, all blindness and hardness of heart;  and pray for the spirit of true charity, which alone is true wisdom.  And let us come to Holy Communion in charity with one another and with all;  determined henceforth to feel for one another, and with each other;  to put ourselves in our neighbors’ places;  to see with their eyes, and to feel with their hearts, so far as God shall give us that great grace;  determined to make allowances for their mistakes and failings;  to give and forgive, even as God gives and forgives for ever;  that so we may be indeed the children of our Father in heaven, whose name is Love.

For more on loving one another see these posts:

Love One Another

Wash One Another’s Feet??

Keep Loving One Another

 

Little Children, Love One Another

“I have given them the glory that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.  I am in them, and you are in me, so that they may be completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.”  John 17:22-23

This is from what is called the high priestly prayer of Jesus, a prayer which He prayed shortly before his death.  It’s from the gospel of John, and reminds me of a story about the apostle.  He lived to be very old, and it’s said that when he became unable to stand and preach, he would be carried into the church where his entire sermon was simply, “Little Children, love one another.”  Love is the major theme in John’s writing, and in his life.  He knew that as Christians, we are called to be one body, to love one another and to love others. That is what the world should see when they look at us.

However, John’s simple message is easier said than done.  I’m currently reading the diaries of Dorothy Day, which I’ll probably finish and review later this month.  Dorothy was a Catholic who started a number of “hospitality houses” for the needy and homeless.  She welcomed and loved the kinds of people who were pretty unlovable — alcoholics, those who were mentally ill, some who were simply dirty and/or disagreeable.  She was criticized by many in the church for her “extreme” methods.  It was a constant struggle for her to love, yet she knew that was her calling as a child of God.  Like the apostle, John, love was her theme.

We too must deal with people every day that we have trouble loving.  Some are our neighbors!  Some are our fellow church members!  Some are family! Often people behave in ways that upset or annoy us.  We feel used.  We feel disrespected.  Face it, we feel angry.  We want to tell them off or walk away.  However, the words of Scripture are clear.  We are to love others.  We are especially to seek unity in the church.  We cannot allow our personal feelings to get the better of us. If we do, we’re disobeying the words of Christ.

So, here’s my point. Struggle, but don’t give up.  Remember your own sins and how you have been forgiven.  Let love be your theme.

 

The last night

On the night on which he was betrayed, our Lord knew he would die the next day. He knew that before that happened he would be betrayed (and by whom) and denied (and by whom). He knew he would be abandoned, mocked, scorned, slapped, punched, and scourged. He knew he who was sinless would take on himself all the sins of all of us.

How would you spend your last night if you knew it would be your last night? He chose to wash the feet of his disciples. He gave bread and wine, his body and blood, and forgiveness. He gave the promise of a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. He gave a command to love one another.

Holy communion always brings us close to Christ, but never closer than on Maundy Thursday, when we are aware of that night and what he did and what he said and what he faced for us. It was profound sorrow and pure joy to be in his presence on this night of all nights.

Keep Loving One Another

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. ”   John 14:9-11

This favorite children’s song, based on the verses above, tells us that when we keep loving one another, we are not only being obedient to God, we will be filled with joy.  Who can you love today?

A New Commandment

I found this hymn recently, and since it goes with our monthly theme, I decided to share it this morning.  It’s based on John 13:34:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”