Marriage and Family Advice

Ephesians 5 is rich with advice on relationships. At the center of all relationships are the marriage and the family. God established them in the beginning for good reason and in good and perfect design. I have heard them referred to as ‘just another place to walk your Christian faith’ and in the same breath ‘thee most important and challenging place to do so,’ which gives them the familiar simple but challenging label. Praise God for His Word that reveals the truth and guides us! Here is the simple recipe for a blessed family:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. – Ephesians 5:18-21

So that is it, a simple four point checklist. There is a lot out there written on how to have a successful marriage and family. Let us quite all the noise for a moment and remember God’s recipe. Here’s a four point checklist that we use in our family. It is labeled the real issues to remind us that God’s word is the authority in our lives and our relationships. These are instructions on what each family member has in Christ.

The real issues of blessed family:

  1. Spirit filled; under the obedience of God’s Word
  2. Singing hearts of joy; speaking in psalms/spiritual songs to one another
  3. Saying thanks; ever thankful, ever grateful
  4. Submitting our will to the others’; going last, putting others first  

The image I used for this post is a heart that Jamie made to remind us of these real issues of a blessed family. It is placed on our fridge right next to handle, a little in the way but never out of place.

Extra Credit: free ~11 hour study resource marriage, parenting, and family: The Fulfilled Family

 

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from October 5th, 2016’s reading: 1 Kings 8; Ephesians 5; Ezekiel 38; Psalm 89

What’s My Job?

 

I have heard it said that the Church of Christ needs to be known not by what it approves or disapproves of, but by the grace and salvation of Jesus. Yet, the scripture cries out to us to put certain things off and certain things on. What is the Church to do?

It is my understanding that all the prophets came to indict the culture; that Jesus did the same thing, helping the Israelites see the error of their ways, helping the humble realize their need for a Savior; that the Spirit came to give perfect remembrance to Jesus’s followers of His words and so these convictions continue to help us see the error of our ways and grow in Him. It seems clear to me that God judges perfectly, but what is the difference between God and His church?

The ESV gives Romans chapter 14 the heading Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another. It speaks to matters of conviction in food and special observance of certain days. Some felt all days were equal and others felt some special. Some felt certain foods unclean. Others felt all food clean unto itself. What then should we do? Should we eat or not, observe or not? Paul’s conclusion: Yes, let us live by faith.

If you are convicted that a certain food is unclean, do not eat it (Romans 14:14, Romans 14:23). If not, eat it. Unless by eating you may cause grief to him who thinks it unclean, then do not eat, or else you may cause them to stumble (Romans 14:15). Give way to their conviction and keep your conviction to yourself (Romans 14:22). Do not judge (Romans 14:13). Do not let food get in the way of the work of God (Romans 14:20). We are not fit to judge and for those who have struggled with feeling they need to come to the rescue of their neighbor by helping them remove the speck from their eye, Paul gives us the assurance that our LORD is their Savior, He will help them stand on that day (Romans 14:4).  

If my job is not to judge or to save, what is it? Am I doing my job in the church?

Extra credit.

  • Love has been written about many times on this blog. If you missed it, check out David LaFrance’s post Law of Love from yesterday.
  • When on a team not everyone does everything. Members have roles, different jobs. To understand the role of the Holy Spirit and how you can work with Him in your role I highly encourage you to listen to The Holy Spirit: God’s Prosecutor by John MacArthur. It starts this way…
  • This is a portion of Scripture that every preacher must understand: every preacher must understand, every pastor must understand, every parishioner, every Christian must understand. The text before us foundational to our mission. It is foundational to our cause in the world. It is the foundation of all gospel preaching and all gospel witness… Like many passages, however, in the Bible, it has a ring of familiarity to us, and people somehow think they know what it means, and they don’t really dig down to see the truth that is here. I want to be able to help you to understand it, perhaps, in a way you’ve never understood it before, and the way that it has to be understood in the context and the intention of our Lord. I think I’m safe in saying that most preachers don’t really get a grasp on this, as most Christians do not, and that is a crippling reality.

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from August 24th, 2016’s reading: 1 Samuel 16; Romans 14; Lamentations 1; Psalm 32

 

God’s law loves you too

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 27–28:19; Psalm 119:1–24; Isaiah 54; Matthew 2

June 22nd, 2016

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. – Psalm 119: 1-11

To me the law is a beautiful thing. It is full of judgement, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23-24). The law is love written on our hearts (Romans 13:10, Hebrews 8:10). In my estimation, so that we are hardwired with the ability to love others with the love of Jesus Christ. Like an operating system for our soul, when we divert from the law and choose not to love another, the system gets confused and pushes back; “processing, processing, processing…” God reboot my soul, reset my system anew with love. My soul longs for it. God’s law leads me, directs me, governs me and to the extent that I accept this truth, seek after it and hold to it moment-by-moment, my soul is at rest in the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Still from time to time I encounter a sort of push back amongst Christians when the phase God’s law is used. For some the word law carries with it evil connotations of the very worst sort. To the extent the word ‘law’ or phrase ‘God’s law’ is perceived as an enemy of love. A fear arises in some that God’s law will push non-believers away. The phase “old testament god” is used, as if there were such a thing. God is God and has always been, no shadow of turning (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8). Oh how this angers me. I hate this perversion of my Masters holiness. My anger of course is with the evil that has managed to redefine the meaning of the word law through hypocrisy.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. – Matthew 23:23–24

James Tissot, Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees.
James Tissot, Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees.

In my estimation, Jesus here criticizes the religious leaders for their blinding attention to detail that caused them to lead others astray from the truth of the law. My prayer is that the Pharisees and hypocrites perversions of the law will be untwisted and made straight. That we may dismiss the worldly definition of God’s law, wave God’s banner and return to the truth proclaiming a biblical definition of His law. That we would all fall in love with God’s beautiful law. That we would never be deceived into a judgemental nor self righteous nature. That we would not be fear-driven conditional lovers and so pervert God’s law. That any inner Pharisees within us would be vanquished by God’s truth (Psalm 139:23).

Judgement is not about one person assessing another’s keeping of the law but rather the law helping one keep their own affairs in order (Isaiah 1:17, Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:9–10; Micah 6:8; Habakkuk 2:4). Praise God for writing His law on our hearts that we may live abundantly (Jeremiah 31:31-34)!

Keeping the law is beautiful

Straining out the gnat is not evil in any way. Jesus makes it clear that we should do it. His criticism is that the Pharisees had done it to the dismissal of things that were more important.  Loving the LORD thy God with all one’s heart and soul and mind and desiring to do His will in all things; Beautiful. Thinking one’s self capable of judging another’s love for God. Ugly; Deep concern for one’s own stewardship; Wise. Being overly concerned for someone else’s; Foolish. Judgement is a gift from God to help us with our stewardship. Let us not pervert this gift by trying to unwrap it for another. Instead let us rejoice in it. Praising God for His gift to us in humility as we are judged in grace and mercy to the glory of God. As we are made whole and mature in Christ.

Let us also consider the inverse. If we pass by and see another straining out a gnat and think, “that hypocrite” are we not in judgement of another? Is it not a matter of their heart whether they should strain the gnat in secret or let the light shine? Are we capable of knowing their heart? By straining a gnat have they said everyone else must also do the same, that it is right for all, certainly this would be judgement on their part, but have they done this by simply straining out the gnat? If so how is one to obey Jesus command to let their light shine? (Matthew 5:16)

Shine Your light oh LORD and vanquish darkness. Here is truth about the law:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. – John 13:34–35

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. – Romans 13:10

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:36–40

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12

 

Extra Credit:

  1. Check out the eight woes of the Pharisees, this post mostly drew on the fifth.
  2. Golden Rule thought experiment on the power of God’s law in love

Scripture: Matthew 7:12, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 13:5

God gives us a simple and basic, at the most fundamental level, instruction on how to keep the law well. Many call it the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). I say it is most fundamental because it is by way of that which we are most intimate with than any other; ourselves. We know exactly how we should like to be treated and regarded and so forth. Even if not consciously, subconsciously we are hardwired to love ourselves well. Follow along for one simple illustration of this truth. We know that love thinketh no evil or, put another way, keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

What if we were to apply how we feel about ourselves in this matter on to others? In order to explore this question I encourage you to join me in a thought experiment on your being wrong. Popular exercise, I know.

  1. Name a time when you were wrong; no excuses, no circumstances at work that were out of your control, no anything but you and your wrongness hanging out being wrong.
  2. Let’s say you came up with something. Then let us go to how long it took to recall. Checking all those excuse boxes may have taken a bit of time. Well that one wasn’t really all my fault, etc. So how long did it take you to recall?
  3. Now think back to the first time you had admitted you were wrong in this instance. Think on how quickly and completely you forgave yourself. Did it even take a second? Did it really even register?

Is not love a beautiful thing?!?! Praise God that His law is written on our hearts! (Jeremiah 31:31-34) His forgiveness, His grace and His mercy are written on our hearts!!! The questions then become, does it take you as long to come up with something someone close to you has done wrong? Has it taken you more than a second to dismiss it from your mind?

The point here is that our love of ourselves is much nearer perfection in fulfilling the law than our love for our fellows. God has written it on our hearts to help us, to enable us for the good work He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). How can we not fall in love with His law? Is it not beautiful? Does it not equip us to save souls and rescue others from bondage as it all the time

Dangerous Witness, Love Ridiculous

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Genesis 13; Matthew 12; Nehemiah 2; Acts 12

Summer Sunny Forest Trees And Green Grass. Nature Wood Sunlight

Often when I read God’s living word, I find myself stopping to say something of the sort “Wait, what’s that all about?” Today’s reading started off this way.

Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. -Genesis 13:4

This phrase ‘called on the name of the Lord’ confused me. I thought to myself “that is an interesting way to say Abram worshiped the Lord. What does an old testament sacrifice have to do with God’s Name?” Seeking for answers, I looked for the phrase throughout the Bible. I found it used in several places throughout the Bible, old and new testament, such as; Gen 4:26Gen 13:4, 1 Ki 18:24, 2Ki 5:11, Joe 2:32, Ac 2:21, Ac 22:16To me, it became more clear what this meant with each of the old testament occurrences but none more than in the prophecy of Joel and then later in Acts.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered:… -Joel 2:32

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16

I also looked in to the individual words used, which helped me better understand the phrase. The root word for ‘called’, as in Abram called on the Name of the Lord is קרא, which I learned can be used in several different forms. In the form it is used here, it is also used throughout chapter one of Genesis when God is naming his creation: ‘calling the light day’ and so on. Interesting. So not necessarily called as in; Tom called on Jane, but more; Tom called Jane beautiful. Put another way, calling something what it is. 

This phrase ‘calling on the name of the Lord’, in my estimation then, is a proclamation of faith that God is who He reveals Himself to be. Put another way, announcing officially or publicly “God is who He says He is! Jesus is the Christ! I profess my dependence on Him and commit to follow Him.” Perhaps not that specifically, but you get the idea.

Another interesting revelation from this study is that this proclamation of faith is consistent term, if you will, of all the covenants that God graciously enters into with His undeserving people throughout the Bible. Throughout the covenants we are called to be His witnesses.

In the old testament making sacrifices and observing special holidays was a way to be different from the other people of the earth and in so doing the others could see from afar that these people we’re proclaiming God’s Name. Imagine an animal being sacrificed. Such an act would not go unnoticed by the neighbors. It would be loud. The smell, far reaching. Like unto it, many of the rhythms of holiday observances and pilgrimages, people about would take notice; ‘There go God’s people.’ As we adhere to the covenants we proclaim God’s name.

Today, Jesus tells us that love will be the signal to all the world that we are His disciples.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. -John 13:35

Trying to think on why love is the way to proclaim God’s name in the new covenant may be another study entirely. Perhaps receiving the Spirit was the only way we would be capable of sending such a signal? Acts 1:8

I feel this understanding has presented me a most precious opportunity to consider a question. Can the way I live, the way I love, go unnoticed by the neighbors? When I love does it point straight to God? Does it proclaim His name? God help me. 

The vision statement at Eastview names me a dangerous witnesses who has love ridiculous. Perhaps the kind of love that can not go unnoticed? Perhaps the kind of love that is so unself, so supernatural, it can only become through the power of the Spirit? God would you accept my life as a living sacrifice? God would you help me take up my cross daily and focus on things eternal, letting go of the temporal? God would you turn my heart towards Your statues and not toward selfish gain? 

Further reading from past studies:

Parenting: Good-night Words

Good night words to a child ought to be the best of words, as they are words of greatest potency. The last waking thoughts of a child have a peculiar power over his mind and heart, and are influential in fixing his impressions and in shaping his character for all time.
-H Clay Trumbull

Parenting Good night words

Before Eleanor arrived and since her arrival, in small talk, folks seem to gravitate to a common place. In jest, advice, and curiosity Eleanor’s sleep seems to be thee topic of interest. It became clear to Jamie and I that this was an important issue before Eleanor came to us and so we asked and sought out and knocked on the door of scripture, books and friends to learn.

Here are some of the larger takeaways from Mr. Trumbull’s chapter on laying a child down to rest:

  • This is an hour unlike others in a child’s day where they are particularly left to themselves and so a child craves sympathy and appreciates kindness and is grieved by harshness and cold neglect at this hour where they are most alone.
  • Children are particularly malleable just before they sleep and so it is at this hour that a parent’s word and presence are most potent.
  • A wise parent will prize this hour as the golden hour of good impressions on the child’s heart. There should be no severity then, no punishment. Every word should be one of gentleness and affection.
  • The last waking thoughts of a children’s are of particular importance in the shaping of the child’s character through all time.

Eleanor has nearly outgrown her bassinet and so we are preparing her for her crib. A bedtime blessing was prepared. In our studies on sleep we found there are some 139 verses on sleep in our Bible. Most all of them point to this idea of trusting in a God who is worthy of our trust. I believe Mr. Trumbull came to a similar conclusion through his studies and perhaps that is what lead him to include this story in his chapter on good night words:

A sensitive, timid little boy, long years ago, was accustomed to lie down to sleep in a low “trundle-bed,” which was rolled under his parents’ bed by day, and was brought out for his use by night. As he lay there by himself in the darkness, he could hear the voices of his parents, in their lighted sitting room, across the hallway, on the other side of the house. It seemed to him that his parents never slept; for he left them awake when he was put to bed at night, and he found them awake when he left his bed in the morning. So far this thought was a cause of cheer to him, as his mind was busy with imaginings in the weird darkness of his lonely room.

After loving good-night words and kisses had been given him by both his parents, and he had nestled down to rest, this little boy was accustomed, night after night, to rouse up once more, and to call out from his trundle-bed to his strong-armed father, in the room from which the light gleamed out, beyond the shadowy hallway, “Are you there, papa?” And the answer would come back cheerily, “Yes, my child, I am here.” “You’ll take care of me tonight, papa; won’t you?” was then his question. “Yes, I’ll take care of you, my child.” was the comforting response. “Go to sleep now. Good night.” And the little fellow would fall asleep restfully, in the thought of those assuring good-night words.

A little matter that was to the loving father; but it was a great matter to the sensitive son. It helped to shape the son’s life. It gave the father an added hold on him; and it opened up the way for his clearer understanding of his dependence on the loving watchfulness of the All-father. And to this day when the son, himself a father and grandfather, lies down to sleep at night, he is accustomed, out of the memories of that lesson of long ago, to look up through the shadows of his earthly sleeping place into the far-off light of his Father’s presence, and to callout, in the same spirit of childlike trust and helplessness as so long ago, “Father, you’ll take care of me tonight; won’t you?” And he hears the assuring answer back, “He that keepeth thee will not slumber. The LORD shall keep thee from all evil. He shall keep thy soul. Sleep, my child, in peace.” And so he realizes the two fold blessing of a father’s good-night words.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid:
Yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
– Proverbs 3:24

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
– Psalm 4:8

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD,
Which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper:
The LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
He shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.
-Psalms 121

Trusting in the LORD is a beautiful thing. From my studies, I have come to believe that so much of my sin has come from wanting things for myself. Adam and Eve in the garden; the apple, a way to say “If I have the knowledge I won’t need God. I will make my own way. I won’t need to depend on the LORD.” What a complicated mess. A simpler way to rely completely on the LORD. To trust completely in the LORD for He is completely trustworthy. May our children know that the LORD always watches over them, that He alone is enough for them, that they can trust in Him in all things and sleep sweetly and always go in peace.

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciate

A Journal Entry: When to Talk

let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
-Saint James

When to talk and when to listen

I have come to keep a journal. Reflections on the day and so on. This morning in my time set aside to blog, thoughts of reflection on a topic that has gone unanswered too long and an idea of resolution consumed me to journal instead. So this week I will share this entry. Names removed, adding in verses for and some of my thoughts that did not make their way to the entry for context, etc:

5.2.15

In the past I have not been sure as to the volume of my speech. In business settings, in the past I have felt like I, in general, have ideas I think will help. So I have always erred the side of sharing them. That said, I have been mindful of God’s word that encourages us not to speak hastefully and in great volume. It has been a point of uncertainty for me. The balance of volume my speech. Should I talk or should I remain silent? Is this a point of pride? That everyone must hear my idea because my idea is so good? Yesterday I had breakfast with one of my mentors. My struggle on the matter came up as we talked about James 1:18-20:

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

I have come to believe this to mean that if we are going to be God’s firstfruits amongst His creatures, if we are going to serve and love our fellow; the formula to make that possible is to be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath. We need to listen to be positioned to love others well. It does not say “do not speak” it says to “be slow to speak.” This I think helps us focus on listening. The opposite thinking about what we are going to say and waiting for the first opportunity to speak, I do not think is slow to speak but rather quick for we have already spoke to ourselves and are just waiting to privy others our thoughts. The question I asked him was how does this work with the gift of speaking and teaching and sharing understanding. He looked at me and smiled. He gave no answer. No word left his tongue. Interesting. Perhaps now I think he may have been teaching me a lesson after all. After breakfast he and I went to visit an old friend of my fathers that was in town from the city on a case, he is a God fearing lawyer, his father was too. I asked him this same question after talking about James 1:19. He said that it was a tough question that he had no answer. He did however afford me a piece of advice his father gave him. ‘It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’ That is, as I took it, when in doubt remain silent. Still my dilemma remains for my confidence soars in conversation that a particular idea should be shared for the service of those there. Not to my glory of course, that I rescue them with my idea or some nonsense, but instead, should what is shared help; glory be to our God who makes all things known, the Creator of all ideas. I was mowing the lawn last afternoon, preparing our home for a dinner with the families of two business partners where we planned to discuss how to help another in a new venture. As I was mowing the lawn reflecting on the day, I came to this bit of advice that my fathers friend passed to me from his father. ‘When in doubt remain in silence.’ Then a thought flashed in to my mind. 1 Peter 4:10-11:

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

In my estimation, if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow, then speak as it is your duty. This, I think, is when the doubt is removed; that point of balance I had been searching for. When to talk. My father’s friend said something else that I think answers the ‘if’ of the qualifying question above. That is; discerning if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow. I am doing my best to recall and paraphrase his comments, ‘I thrive in hardship.’ He said, ‘It is good for me. To be humbled and know I rely on God. I have no humble bone in my body. God brings me to my knees.’ This sort of revelation has been reoccurring to me as of late years. My complete reliance on God. On God’s Spirit to show me what to do. I think now, God willing, my dilemma in speech will draw me closer to God. Practicing the presence of God. God give me discernment and faith with wisdom, understanding, knowledge. I need Your help God. I depend on You moment by moment. Draw me near You God and draw near me. Show me what to do.

A quick programming note: I want to clarify something that was clear in my mind when writing in my journal but could be taken for granted here. And when I say clear in my mind I do not mean that I have figured this out, only that I have come to believe these things important. These things are things that if, should you believe you are to speak, I do not think should give way to manners and other proverbs addressing our speech. Things like talking in definitives or otherwise squaring off that you are in the right, interrupting and other forms inserting yourself when another is speaking, or dominating a conversation as to not let another contribute. 

 

-A journal entry on speech

  As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

Theological Virtues: Charity

Charity means ‘Love, in the Christian sense’.
-C.S. Lewis

Charity wanting the best for others

Charity from caritas the standard Latin translation for the Greek word Αγάπη, meaning an unconditional love for others. Charity in old english was defined as a Christian love of one’s fellows. Today charity has come to be thought of mostly in the sense of relief by giving money. But it is much more. Unconditional is such a powerful word when we stop to consider it. Not because of anything. Not in return for anything. Non-negotiable, always, no matter what.

Unconditional seems to be a matter of will instead of feeling. So many times we hear people say things like “[they] are in love”. Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about his belief that love is a verb – that love the feeling is the fruit of love the verb. C.S. Lewis notes a lesson in charity revealing one of the great secrets in life: “When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love them”. He goes on to explain that this secret also works terribly the other way round. Cruel acts produce hatred and more cruelty and on and on. His point? “Good and evil both increase at compound interest.” This is why the little decisions we make day to day are of such importance. The things we do, the seeds we sow, will come to harvest.

Christians by charity are called to unconditionally want the best for others. This is different from liking people. I do not think Christians are called to like everyone by the virtue of charity. I do however think that wanting the best for people, unconditional of your preference to the way they did so and so or that thing they said or what they think about such and such, produces a genuine and authentic liking of them.

We by our very nature afford perfect charity to ourselves. No matter the condition of our preference for ourselves, we want the very best for us. No matter how we fall short of what we think we ought to have done, that is: the degree to which we like ourselves at the moment, the desire for good things for us never wavers. No matter what. Charity I have come to believe is turning this phenomenon outward toward others.  A Christian, unconditional, love for our fellows.  A Christian, unconditional, desire to see others well.

 

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

-A takeaway from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.