CHARITY AND LOVE

The scripture in 1Corinthians 13 is hanging on the wall of my bathroom.  A wedding gift from a friend, I have made sure it was a permanent fixture in each of our recent moves.  Even in my camper, the plaque laid up against a wall, forward facing so that it was in view. I realized it was the perfect wedding gift as I have had to rely on the words many times to remind me of the power of love and charity.

Love and charity starts in your heart and is a reflection of Christ.  It is definitely something that should accompany marriage but really it should be a part of each of us, especially if we want good things in this world to happen.  We all talk about them. Peace, love, happiness. But life rocks on and oftentimes we forget. Not that we forget how to love but as life happens we forget how to show love in a way that is pleasing to Christ.  In this time of pandemic when we have the gift of spending more time with our family – do we truly see it as a gift? Are we taking this time that God has permitted us to have to mend brokenness, to repair communication – the kind of communication that gets hasty and short in times of busyness, but now could be slower, kinder and more thoughtful – afterall, we have the time right? 

This time is revealing.  It painfully displays what we miss.  And in some families it joyfully reveals a gratitude for a season that God has given us to draw closer to those we love and to Him.  For those who aren’t complying with the social distancing guidance, who are openly bashing all authority on social media, for all of those when cannot be still and quiet and peaceful during this time, quiet possibly it is revealing what you seek and rely on to fill you in this life.  Shopping, wants vs. needs, social events, idols like sports, concerts, material possessions – none of which are bad, but if amidst uncertainty and times of unprecedented chaos they are what your focus is on then it reveals what your priorities are. And this is not to judge those but to merely display how unsettled we are when we allow other things to fill us besides charity and love.  We pine for the things that are most important to us and those are the things we become vocal about. What if we all became quiet and just rested in this God given time and allowed our family – our spouses and kids, our parents and siblings – to be the center of our attention, wanting for nothing else outside our four walls and soaking up all of the time that we previously wished we had.  All of the time we spoke about and all of the promises of things we would do if only we had time? And what if we studied the Bible more, prayed more and just rested in the truths of a Holy God?

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 (KJV)

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

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.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

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

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

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.

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.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

“ Love reflects Christ.  When you read this passage of scripture, it is a reflection of how Christ loves us.  It is a promise and a guide for how we should love. His love is mature, selfless, charitable and for the right reasons.  It is not something that happens when he has extra time, it is something that happens all of the time and models how we should not only love and pour into our families but how we should love and pour into our community, church, and into the world.  And this is why it is hanging in my bathroom. I need to be reminded on a daily basis of how to love well. You see I love my family with my whole being but love forgives a lot. Oftentimes we take for granted our spouses and children and while we love them, we don’t love them well and according to how Jesus asks us to love.  Right now has never been a better time to model this type of love within your household. Practice it. We all form habits that busy lives help create but we are not busy right now.   

Right now in this season of uncertainty, how about we not spend our time trying to figure out everything outside our homes but to start today with applying these truths internally.  Because love and charity both start at home.  

I think of families right now in this situation who are spending lots of time together maybe for the very first time.  Especially in homes where mom and dad both work, it may be a first for families to be all under the roof at one time. What a wonderful gift from our Lord.  

In 1 Peter 3, verses 1-2, the topic header in my Bible is Submission to Husbands.  Most people see that and likely scroll past. We don’t live in a time where submission to anyone is on our radar.  It isn’t popular because it denies you of self and while it isn’t popular, it is expected of us by God. Today, I’d like to focus less on the perceived negative feeling this gives us.  I mean, what modern day woman wants to submit to her husband, we are made equals by society and in some cases women are exalted above men. Thinking about willing giving up that status in life not only makes us uncomfortable, it threatens our pride and position and we simply apply our wants and desires and avoid this scripture.  So let’s take a different approach. I read this today because I am wired to do hard things. It is a trait I was taught as a child. My dad used to say this, “Take old can’t, and whip old couldn’t, til he can”. Follow me – simply put, “you can do this”. Put away fears, negativity, lack of motivation, and the don’t wants – bury it and just do it! You can.

I am forever grateful for this lesson.  So I do hard things. I do the nasty chores first,  I do the dreaded thing first and I read the things that will step on my toes the most.  So, we are going there and here is the scripture for you to read.  

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

I have read this verse quite a few times in my life.  I had to reread it again today because for the first time, something stood out that I had never seen before.  I underlined it for you so maybe you wouldn’t miss it like I did.

You see submissitting is what Jesus did.  He submitted to His Holy Father to be an example to us of love and charity.  Jesus was powerful and perfect. We are not either of those things and we need Jesus to help us.  Jesus’ submission to the cross is the reason that we can be saved, all sins forgiven- no matter how bad they are, and why we are able to secure our eternal home in heaven.  There were people in Jesus’ time on earth that would never read scripture (obey not the word) and there are people in our homes and lives just like that but because of His openly displayed submission to God, he revealed to everyday people what the word of God tells us, so that “they also may without the word be won”.  As wives, our submission and commitment to integrity, kindness, gentleness is not only pleasing to God but it is our testimony to an unbelieving spouse. It is the way in which we depict the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. 

Love and charity begins in our heart and in our homes.  Only then can it be spread throughout a lost and dying world.  

You don’t have to feel helpless right now.  Although we are “stuck” in our homes, I pray you will take this time to work on and increase the love and charity in your home.  It is a time like no other for spreading the love of Jesus. People are uncertain but Christ gives us eternal certainty. 1 Peter 14 says, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of theri threats nor be troubled. 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

Today is the day of salvation for many but it is going to take love and charity to reach people.  It will take you doing what you think might be hard and reaching out to them by living a life pleasing to God, by submitting yourself to the cause of Christ in your home and community, and by genuinely being able to give a reason to people who might question your bubbly hope amidst a world under pandemic.

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