January 9, 2006

Reflections on Love

I have been talking, evaluating and reflecting with the leaders of one of the ministries I serve in.... about the past year, about its members, about ourselves as leaders, about the coming year. Not sure if this is a valid reason or it is merely an excuse, sometimes I feel tired of giving... giving of my time and efforts to people and sometimes would entertain thoughts of "How come I am not receiving?" Sometimes I would 'take a break' and just spend time by myself, doing the things I enjoy to do, catch up with old friends that I've not met for some time... generally taking a 'back seat' in ministry and service.

As I search myself, I realised how selfish and unloving I have been. Do I serve for a personal agenda or purely simply serving the God who loves me? Who gets the glory for the things that I do? Am I motivated to please God or please man? Have I really love God and therefore love His people? If I truly love His people, how can I ever get tired? The imperfect me know that I don't have 100% right motive to serve God, 100% glory all to God, 100% to please God, 100% love His people. I guess I was reminded of the finite me, the sinful me and how I am living under God's rule of my life and God's grace to enable me to live my life. Therefore I need to surrender to Him daily, trusting Him to provide, loving this God who saved me, loving His people whom He love, serving with a servant heart. Not easy I must say... but I thank God that in the midst of the reflections, I have recognised this. I pray that He will help me love His people... help me be other-person-centred. I thank God for a renewed and refreshed heart and mind to serve Him as this new year unveils.

It was probably no coincidence that the first sermon of the year was about LOVE. Pastor spoke from 1 Corinthians 13 - the popular Bible passage on love. Although many couples picked this passage for their weddings, it has almost really nothing to do with romantic love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-4 - "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."

The people in the city of Corinth had been engrossed in self love, self ambition and self glory. They will give up everything to gain all that at all costs. Paul questioned the gifts that the Corinthians have.... if they exercise the gifts that they have but have not love, they gain nothing and are nothing. The activity of the gift becomes valueless if there is no love.

Ministries done without love equals to nothing. Pastor also added that the love is an unspectacular, unrecognised and unnoticed love. Ministries done with love often go unnoticed and unrecognised. Does it mean that we give up serving? This hit home the point of my earlier reflection as I serve God in my ministry... if the love shown in the time I spend for the people is not recognised and appreciated by them, do I just give up loving them? If they do not respond, do I just give up on them? Jesus did not give up on the people when people ridicule him, persecute him and nail him on the Cross. He did not give up on his disciples when they betray him and deny him. So what am I doing with the people whom I claim to serve?

Pastor also spoke a bit about weddings and marriages... The groom will wait patiently for the longest time for his bride to arrive on the wedding day. But after that day, will he always wait patiently for his wife and not dread at every opportunity to have to wait for her? Weddings are celebrated in a spectacular manner, but marriage is really not so spectacular and romantic... but day to day and ordinary living. Love is unspectacular, unrecognised and unnoticed.

1 Corinthians 13:5-8 - "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..."

What strikes me about the above verses was that patience is long-suffering. Long-suffering means an active decision not to retaliate. How difficult that is to do!!! To be kind is sometimes, to be paying back wrong with kindness. It is not just the willingness but also the 'quickness' to pay back with kindness. This does not mean that we do not hurt when others wronged us. It only means that the hurt does not matter anymore... this is "love is kind".

God has commanded us to love one another. By displaying the kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13, others will be able to see that we are God's people. I pray that I can continue to love His people....

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