Friday, December 13, 2019
by Elisabeth Johnson
We are living in a very self-centered and angry society. People are easily offended and ready to fight because of the slightest inconvenience. Social media has no shortages of offended people ranting. Retaliation has become the social norm. YouTube has no shortages of videos that show people exploding with angry words and actions because their desires are challenged with delays and denials.
Kindness, courtesy, and compassion are falling away and being replaced with callousness, contempt and cruelty. It has become acceptable to place a high priority upon achieving one’s own wants, desires, and dreams, even at the cost of their own peace.
But Peter tells us there is a better way: “And above all things have fervent love for one another; for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another; as good stewards of the manifold grace of God,” ~ I Peter 4:8-9. In John 13:34-35, Jesus tells us: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Loving our Christian brothers and sisters is often not hard. At least, it isn’t hard on Sunday mornings, but what about the rest of the week? There is something I hope I never, ever hear my co-workers say and that is, “I didn’t know you were a Christian!”
If the people around us don’t know we are Christians, then we have not loved. If they do not know we are Christians, then we have not been hospitable. If they do not know we are Christians, then we have not used the gifts and talents we have been gifted in a way that ministers to others.
Love and unrighteous anger cannot co-exist. It is not possible to truly express love for others and indulge in self-serving attitudes that put our own desires and wants above the needs of others.
Peter tells us that we should use the gifts we have been granted to benefit, or minister to others. No gift is too small. No gift is non-beneficial. When we love others and seek to serve them, we are showing them the grace and goodness of our God.
Grace is unmerited favor. Manifold grace of God is the many favors of God.
Maybe your gift comes through encouraging words. Maybe you have been gifted with the ability to make people laugh. Maybe you have been gifted with the ability to organize things. Maybe you have been gifted with the ability to bake delicious things. Maybe you have been gifted with financial wisdom. Maybe you are really good with children. Maybe your gift is small and will only be seen by a few, such as a gift of service that joyfully cleans after everyone has gone.
Whatever your gift might be, use it to benefit someone else and do it without grumbling. Let your gift be wrapped in love so that the world may know we are His. Love one another with action, just as Christ Jesus loved us with action when He left His home in heaven. Jesus loved us with action as He carried our sins to Calvary and nailed them to a cross. Let us love one another as Christ has loved us. Let us love with more than just words. Where love abounds, a multitude of wrongs can be forgiven – including being cut off in traffic.
Lord, help us to love one another by using our gifts to benefit someone other than ourselves. Grant us eyes to see the needs of others, the ears to hear their desperate pleas for someone to love them, and the grace to use our gifts, without grumbling, to demonstrate Your love and manifold grace. May Your love be evident in our lives as we strive to love others just as Christ loved us. Amen.