Hazelwood – Love personified
As we enter the season of Advent, it is a good time to pause and consider the basics of our faith. As part of our Sunday service, we will mark the approaching celebration of Christ’s birth by lighting one candle of the Advent wreath each week. Each candle is named as: hope (week one), peace (week two), joy (week three) and love (week four).
Love is a central element of our faith. Jesus loved us and we are to love him and others as he loved us. Love begins with God and is personified in Christ. The enormity of God’s love is reflected in John 3:16, probably one of the best known passages of the Bible.
The Gospel of John is often the first book recommended to new Christians, or those seeking Christ. John, as one of Jesus’ disciples, was an eye witness to much of Jesus’ ministry and miracles. When you learn and understand what Jesus did, the rest of the Bible makes as bit more sense. Is it all easy reading? No, but it certainly is interesting!
Reference to the love of Christ is found throughout the New Testament and I suggest it is all tied up nicely in John 13:34-35 (NIV) where Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So how do we love one another, as Christ loved us?
Recently I came across a list that was entitled, “Ten ways to love.” It and the associated scripture references provided some good suggestions on how we might get started. Here is it:
Ten Ways to Love
- Listen without interrupting Proverbs 18
- Speak without accusing James 1:19
- Answer without arguing Proverbs 17:1
- Share without pretending Ephesians 4: 15
- Give without sparing Proverbs 21: 26
- Enjoy without complaint Philippians 2:14-15
- Trust without wavering 1 Corinthians 13: 6-7
- Forgive without punishing Colossians 3: 13
- Promise without forgetting Proverbs 13: 12
- Pray without ceasing Colossians 1:9
Listen without interrupting - Proverbs 18. I wouldn’t speak for you, but this is one of my biggest challenges. I must constantly remind myself not to formulate a response until the other person has finished speaking and has shared the completed thought. To do otherwise, puts me in the company of those referenced in Verse 2. “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
The remainder of the passage is full of solid advice on the benefits of listening first and speaking second.
- 4 The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
- 6 The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.
- 7 The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
- 8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.
- 13 To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.
- 15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
- 21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Speak without accusing - James 1:19. I the same vein, James offers some wise counsel when he says in Verse 19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...” I am one of those folks with a rather short fuse and this additional advice to be slow to anger, is something I need to work very hard at. It is good to have a reason to change and James provides that reason in Verse 20, “... because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. “
Answer without arguing - Proverbs 17:1. “You don’t always have to be right!” I can’t count how many times my parents said that to me. This passage says the same thing, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” Sure it feels good to prove yourself correct on a certain point, but is it always necessary? Sometimes it is simply best to hold your tongue and remain silent. There’s a scripture reference for that as well, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17: 28 NIV) If you must respond, then consider doing so in understanding rather than counter-point.
It’s one thing to read and consider these passages. It is something much more difficult to take them to heart and change one’s ways. I have embarked on that path; will you join me as we consider each passage over the next few months?
All you need is Love!