Thursday, March 27, 2008

Love - Part 4: Does not Brag

“I played that song so well . . . Look at this beautiful dress I sewed . . . You should read the story I just wrote - it’s wonderful! . . .” Perhaps it is more subtle . . . “Didn’t you like the song I played? . . . Isn’t the dress I sewed pretty? . . . Wasn’t the story I wrote good? . . .” How often do words such as these pass our lips? I know that I have been guilty of such on more than one occasion. Yet all of the above are the opposite of love. They are words of bragging. Of bringing praise and attention to oneself. The former set of questions are more obvious, and the latter more subtle as by those questions, one is ‘fishing’ for compliments (praise and adoration for oneself). Even more destructive, though, is the putting down of others to raise oneself up: “I can play that song better than you . . . My dress is so much prettier than hers . . .”

But what causes one to brag? What is the root problem? It is pride in ourselves and in our own accomplishments. A truly humble heart would not even think to brag on her own accomplishments for she knows that the One working through her is the Lord. And that in and of herself, her “righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6). The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans echoes this thought in quoting Psalm 14:1-3: “ ‘. . . There is none who does good . . .’ ” (Romans 3:12). What does Christ say? “ ‘No one is good except God alone.’ ” (Mark 10:18). So as believers, any good that works through us, is because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, working in us through the Holy Spirit. With that in view, who should we direct our praise to? Should we try to bring glory to ourselves or to our Savior?

“ . . . He who boasts is to boast in the LORD. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17)

Yes, may our boast be in the Lord and not in ourselves.

True love, the love of God, "does not brag" (1 Corinthians 13:4). The woman in Proverbs 31 is a shining example of this true and pure heart. She went about her normal activities working, serving, loving. Loving the Lord, loving her family and loving all those she came into contact with. Did she go about and seek praise? Did she laud her own accomplishments? No, she did not. What is said at the end of the chapter? “Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31). Let her works praise her. Our works, our labors, will speak about where our heart lies. Let others praise us for our works and not ourselves. And let us in our hearts (which can also be expressed verbally), direct the praise back to the Lord.

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blogging with a Purpose

Emily, over at A Heart of Praise, has so sweetly blessed us with the "Blogging with a Purpose" award. Thank you for thinking of us, Emily!

In turn, we would like to pass on this award to a few others. Both of these blogs have been a blessing and encouragement to us.

Maria Pauline ~ Beautiful Grace

Margaret Neufeld

And even though they have already received this award before, we wanted to share the following blogs with you as well as they also have been a great blessing to us.

Emily ~ A Heart of Praise
Under Southern Skies
Bethany ~ Blogging Beth

The rules for the award are as follows:
1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Love - Part 3: Not Jealous

"Love . . . is not jealous . . ."
Jealous is: "Suspicious that we do not enjoy the affection or respect of others, or that another is more loved and respected than ourselves.”* “Resentful and envious, as of someone’s attainments or of a person because of his attainments, advantages, etc.” **
Nothing can quite destroy like jealousy. Proverbs 27:4 states that “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?” Who can stand before it? It is a bitter poison that infiltrates the soul and grows into bitterness and bears fruit to even more wickedness. In the life of Joseph, this is clearly shown. Joseph had special dreams. He was given special affection from his father. His brothers, seeing and hearing, began to have twinges of jealousy. “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph . . .” (Acts 7:9). As these different instances occurred, that jealousy continued to grow and fester. Eventually this jealousy would cause them to plan to murder their own younger brother. And indeed, they would have become murderers if it had not been for the intervention of their brother, Rueben (Genesis 37:18-24). Instead they “sold him into Egypt” (Acts 7:9).

Jealousy begins small, but reaps grievous consequences. We must learn to not let even the tiniest seed of jealousy be planted in our hearts. And if it does happen to be planted, we must recognize this and then quickly uproot it. So often, though, it is easier to nurture and care for this jealousy, but by doing this, we are walking according to the flesh and not the Spirit. For “if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:25-26). Yes, let us not.

Let us instead “through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13b), may “each of us . . . please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Romans 15:2), and follow the second greatest commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). If we are cultivating these in our hearts, jealousy will not have the opportunity to grow and bear its fruit. The ‘soil’ of our hearts will not be suitable for it. Jealousy is conquered when we walk by the Spirit, thus bearing the good fruit of love.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3

*Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language
*The 1975 Random House College Dictionary

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Colossians 3:1-4

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."
Colossians 3:1-4

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Fragrance. . .

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

We are a fragrance of Christ.” That is a beautiful and compelling thought. What is it that comes to mind when you think of the word fragrance? For me, I think of the scent of a rose, the smell of the air after a rain, the aroma that comes from a newly lit candle. Even with our eyes closed, we can identify these things simply by their scent – there is no mistaking the mouthwatering smell of a freshly baked apple pie for the delicate fragrance of a hyacinth.

Just as we can identify these things, simply by their fragrance, so should we ourselves, as followers of God, be readily identifiable to those around us, by the life that we live, the love that we share, our attitude, our speech, our countenance, as we are the fragrance of Christ.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

The verse above tells us that a lamp will give light to “all who are in the house”. Everyone who was in the presence of the light, was also aware of the source of where that light was coming from. What is it that people see in us? Do they recognize us as being different, as ones who are radiating the light of the Lord?

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world (John 8:12), and one of our purposes as believers is that others may see the Lord in us, that they may see His light reflected through us. How do we do this? By living for Him, by striving always to be obedient, by learning what is “pleasing to the Lord.”

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10

Now back to the original thought – being a fragrance of Christ. It is a beautiful picture of our relationship with the Lord. It is also a vital responsibility that is placed on each of us once we make the choice to believe and put our faith in Jesus Christ. God has given us the privilege, the honor of being His fragrance. May we all be striving to make the most of every opportunity, that those who see us may know that the love of Christ is in us, “for we are a fragrance of Christ.”

-Posted by Leah

Monday, March 3, 2008

Love - Part 2: Kindness

Love is patient, love is . . . kind”. Kindness is the second aspect used to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13, and like patience, is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). And again, our God is the perfect example of kindness.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4). God’s kindness, which He has shown toward mankind, leads us to “the repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18). Because of God’s great kindness, He sent His only begotten Son to die in our place, taking our sins upon Himself; “when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:4-5a). He has “made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7). Thanks be to God for the great kindness that He has bestowed upon us! May we follow our Lord’s example, “for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35). May we practice the kindness that He desires us to have in our lives. For “the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all . . . .” (2 Timothy 2:24).

God has also specifically instructed women that this aspect of love, kindness, is to be a part of their character:

Older women likewise . . . encourage the young women . . . to be . . . kind” Titus 2:3-5

Godly women in Scripture can encourage us in this area of kindness by the testimony of their own lives. The woman in Proverbs 31 had “the teaching of kindness on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26). Tabitha (or Dorcas), was a woman who “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” (Acts 9:36). (To read more on the life of Tabitha, please read “A Godly Example”).

We know that we are to be kind. We see that women are also specifically instructed in this area. We see examples in Scripture of kindness lived out in the lives of godly women. But what is kindness in actuality?

“Some words, such as kindness, are so commonly used, that many times we don't even entirely grasp the fullness of what they mean. Kindness is defined as: “that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses.”* From the definition, we can see that kindness would be having a servant's heart and a selfless attitude; looking to the needs of others, caring so much about someone else's needs that we go out of our way to bless them. It may even be something so simple as a smile, a loving note, or a helping hand.” (Quote taken from A Godly Example; emphasis added).

Kindness is not seeking to satisfy our own wants and desires, but instead having a heart of service to others. A heart earnestly desiring to bear the burdens of those around us. Desiring to bring comfort and rest to weary hearts. Looking for and seeing needs and meeting them, not only physical needs, but also spiritual and emotional needs.

Having this heart of kindness does not just happen instantly. Paul instructs “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14). We must “put on” this heart of kindness. Actively seeking, actively working, actively practicing kindness.

“. . . applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8). What a beautiful truth! If we are practicing these attributes, which kindness is one, we are fruitful and useful for our Master’s use.

Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, says it so well: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3).

*Definition taken from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary to the English Language.

-Posted by Sarah