Christian Living – Love

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:36-39

In perspective, a Christian who lives a purposeful life is motivated by “love” rather than being driven by a set of rules and regulations. Jesus Christ summarized that our Christian living is three-dimensional, all of which center on love.

Firstly, love God. Our relationship with God is bound by love rather than fear. We worship, serve and get involved in missions because of our love for God that springs from within. God does not intend that we do it because we fear Him and look upon worship or involvement in religious affairs such as offering simply as a duty or do it because we harbor certain ulterior motive. We do it because of love.

Secondly, love our neighbors and our fellow human beings. Human beings are from the same origin in Adam and Eve, the first couple created by God. Our society and the world at large will be peaceful and in harmony if we love each other. With love there will be forbearance, mercy, compassion and unity. People will be helpful, be forgiving and patient with each other. By loving one another, there will be joy and happiness in the family; with a strong institution in family, our community will be a safe place to live in.

Thirdly, love ourselves. Does it sound conflicting if we mention that Christians should learn to love their own selves? Should Christians not be denying themselves and also crucifying themselves like Christ? The word “self” takes a different meaning from the physical body and is not the way of life as controlled by the lowly self. The word “self” is noble, is about human value, self-respect and dignity. The word human connotes one who is kind hearted and virtuous. As a result, we should not hate, inflict injury or even belittling ourselves. Instead, we should have self-respect and be proud of ourselves. Through self-respect, we learn to respect others and see the value in human race.

Let love be the focus of our relationship with God, our neighbors, even with our own selves. Pray that God will bestow unto us patience as regards our love for one another. Indeed, in love, we make His world a better place.

In Christ, I Die Everyday!

“I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:31

In our some of our previous reading, we spoke about habit, that our fate is decided by our habit; we are either going to fail or be successful depends on our conduct, behavior and habit.
In this competitive world that we live in, many are focusing on self development which emphasizes increase in knowledge and skill set.

That said, if any effort in self development does not include building character, training in acquiring good and healthy habit, then it is indeed a lop-sided, imperfect development. We can envisage these kind of people although can be very smart, they probably have questionable character. More often than not, we hear of such people using their intelligence for personal gain and becoming swindlers.

We do not wish to be one-sided:- Being smart but having lousy character or being a very good person but unfortunately not very intelligent. In perspective, it is better to be a good, not so intelligent person. A good person lands on his feet, and conscience and thoughtfulness are essential for building character. Humans are born to be virtuous and failing to be good is synonymous with failing to uphold human dignity. Apart from being conscientious to becoming a good person, we have to be resolute in getting rid of bad habit.

As Christians, we crucify our old self; we die to our old habit just like Christ who died when He was crucified on the cross. Through the resurrection of Christ, we inherit a new life. The old has passed and the new has come; we rid ourselves of old habit and behavior such as covetousness, worldliness, self-centeredness and are able to defeat our lowly self. In place of which is the fruit of the spirit and the love of God; in God’s love, we will love our neighbors as ourselves.

Character building takes time and there is no shortcut. But if we have the determination, we shall succeed. The new habit will eventually take control of us as we endeavor to achieve Christlikeness. Hopefully, on that day when judgement arrives, we shall all be able to claim, “I am now complete in Christ!” instead of feeling sorry for having done nothing . In Christ, we go through the process of being made anew, to replace the old self.

A Thorn Was Given to Paul

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…..For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

God’s words of encouragement came on Paul at that time when he could not understand why “a thorn was given him in the flesh” meaning he was suffering, even though he had been doing good, was fervent in doing God’s work and had been living righteously.

Nobody knew what was the “thorn” that Paul was referring to. He only mentioned that he could not take it out even though he pleaded to God by praying three times. So, what actually is the thorn? Some suggested it was physical illness, some said it was persecution and some guessed it was his conscience feeling guilty the way he treated Christians in the past.

God finally answered his prayer but not in a manner which he would like, which was to remove the thorn from him. God gave this answer, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God is speaking to us today, telling us that He knows our every weakness.

For those who profess that they love God very much but when they become very successful and are so comfortable with their life until they forget about God, God will probably plant a thorn in us, reminding us that what we have comes from Him. God says, “Do not puff up with pride when we become successful with people heaping praises on us.” Be conscientious that what we have is because of God’s grace, not because of our own merit. Indeed, His grace and mercy are sufficient for each and everyone of us.

A Successful Life

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

Those who prosper in life are those who have worked hard for it; it is impossible for a person who is lazy to be in abundance. Every religion teaches us to work hard and be diligent, so that over time, we reap what we sow. On the other hand, one who is wasting his time and does nothing will never have a fruitful life.
A lazy man will always find excuse for not doing things for he has no sense of urgency, is inactive and will have a tendency to run away from his responsibility.

Nowadays, we have to be aware of one who preaches that we do not have to work hard because God will provide. By comparing us to the newborn little birds in the nest, he is telling us we do not have to work, just wait for the time when the mother bird will come and feed us. This is indeed wrong teaching because God provides for those who work hard, who go out and try to make a living for themselves.

There is a difference between working hard and doing things in a rush. A person who does things hastily is unlikely to be meticulous, may not have given it a good thought and therefore make mistakes easily. The more important an issue is, the more time we need to spend on it and make sure we cover all angles before making a decision. As a result, we should not be afraid to spend more time to ponder over an issue, especially if it is one of life and death.

That said, the basis of living a successful life is to work hard and be smart; similar to knowledge going hand-in-hand with wisdom. If we work hard on a wrong issue and at the wrong time, we may not be able to enjoy the fruit of our labour. We therefore pray for God’s wisdom and understanding to be upon us as we work hard so that we can live a purposeful and fruitful life.

Do Not Be Conformed To This World

“And is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

Christians believe that there is a god. Therefore, Christian living is not only about living a life according to the teaching of God but is also about having a relationship and close fellowship with Him. The centre of Christian living is to worship God. In worshiping, we give reverence and respect to God by lifting His name above all else. The verse indicates the way we should worship God and we also get to know His desire to seek such worshippers.

The Samaritan woman was confused which was more sacred as a worship place, Samaria or Jerusalem? The debate focused on the place of worship rather than worshiping the one and true God. But she realized that the essence of worship was not about being ceremonially religious but was about worshiping God in spirit and in truth. The Samaritan woman also learnt that God sought those who worshiped Him in earnest.

Whilst it is desirable to have a sanctuary with proper proceeding in worshiping, it does not mean that without these elements, we cannot conduct any worship. Worship is not dictated by place and substance prevails over form. In Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore…to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

Worshiping God is about being submissive to His will. As a result, what matters is what comes out of our heart. Indeed, worship can be in various forms; some have very strict proceeding and some can be very liberal but if we miss the essence of worship, that is to have a contrite heart and subject ourselves to His sovereignty, we are not the kind of worshipers whom God is seeking.

Today is the day of worship. Let us sing praises unto Him and praise His holy name. “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness”. (Psalms 29:2) Ask ourselves if we are one of the worshippers whom God is seeking!