Friday, August 15, 2014

Beauty’s Core | Generous, Merciful, and Loving

Last one! I’m not giving a full week for this one, because I want to get it out before school starts! I’m really excited for school and how God’s going to use and guide me this year, and I’m excited to share all of that with you guys!

Okay, so “generous” is a bit of a weird term to apply to God. He gives good things to those who ask. It is us who should be generous with what God has given us. Clarification, in case anyone was confused.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
 Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” –Matthew 7:7-11
This is kind of a weird way to explain how we should be like God, but I don’t believe in doing things the normal way. J This is part of the Sermon on the Mount; it’s Jesus talking. He promises essentially that if we seek God and ask things according to His plan, He will give them to us. He gives good gifts to those who ask.
Unfortunately, truly giving gifts requires one thing: selflessness. That’s not something I have in great supply. For my part, gift giving is largely restricted to birthdays and Christmas. But what about the simpler gifts; the ones we should give on a regular basis? Love and encouragement are two that I often neglect to give freely. We all love to be complimented, but if none of us take the time to give compliments, how can we receive them? Sometimes, I think we need to pay attention not to what is asked outright-“can I have the salt, please”-but what is asked indirectly. Have you ever just felt really low, and suddenly someone just out of the blue came up and said “wow; your hair looks really fantastic today; how in the world did you get it to stay like that?” or some similar comment, and they’ve somehow managed to say just the right thing to make you feel a little better? Maybe it’s because they listened to what your heart was asking, even if you didn’t voice it.
Of course, this goes to giving actual gifts, too. You never know what will happen when you give up your self-centred concerns in favour of generosity until you try it. And it goes FAR beyond our circle of friends. We can give innumerable gifts to people in third-world countries, people who have been begging for help for decades. And though I’ve never done this myself, I’ve heard that people who really take that step and fulfill that need are viewed as absolutely beautiful by the people they have helped. And the more you become like Christ, giving to those who ask and reaching for the poor, the more beautiful you become on the inside.

This goes back to the whole being hurt thing I talked about in my last post. I on my own am a very vengeful person. “Forgive and forget” doesn’t come naturally to me. But what if someone came to me and asked my forgiveness for something they’d done to hurt me? Would I be merciful?
I want to say yes. Really, I do. But it would be hard. The New Oxford American Dictionary (courtesy of my iPhone) defines “mercy” as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” God is certainly merciful. He extends His mercy and grace to all of us, because we are all sinners who deserve to be punished, and God is more than capable of doing so. Sometimes it’s hard to forgive. For me, mercy has to come first. I have to decide that I’m not going to attempt to “punish” a person, but it may be weeks before I have truly forgiven them in my heart, and the Lord is working in my heart to change me into a more forgiving person, but the point is that we are to extend the same mercy that God has extended to us, just like in the parable of the unmerciful servant, as it is labeled in my NIV. I happen to know from meeting a few that girls who are always out to get you, who refuse to be merciful or forgive, are rarely well-liked or admired, and while the admiration of other’s isn’t necessarily what we should aspire to, it plays a role. You can’t be beautiful if you’re always out to get someone; spreading rumours and gossiping and trying to steal her boyfriend. It just makes you bitter. It won’t fill you. But Christ can.

Always save the best for last, and I think I have. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we might be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:14-20
That was a long passage; sorry. I love 1 John. Love is the greatest commandment; the entire New Testament is about love! Love your neighbour, love your enemy, love your brother as yourself, love the Lord your God above everything else. Love, love, love. And yet every day I see and hear of people who claim to be in Christ and yet are not loving toward each other or toward those who do not yet believe. “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” The Bible doesn’t skirt around this at all. Jesus loved us. And we are called to love one another. If we don’t, we’re no better off than anyone else.
Let’s boil it down: it’s not about the rules. In 17 ⅔ years of living on this earth, I have had so many people throw so many rules in my face that I don’t even know what to do with them all. But Jesus didn’t come and die to convince us to follow the rules. He came because of love. If we truly believe in His sacrifice, shouldn’t we also do the same? I talked about giving gifts to those who ask; does not every human heart cry out for love? What greater gift could we then give but to love them and share with them the love of God, so that they will know and be satisfied?
Please allow me to clarify. Having a boyfriend who holds you and tells you you’re beautiful is not love. I’m not here to judge your relationships; that’s between you and God. But the world defines love all wrong. Love is sacrifice; it is selfless. And it is beautiful. We are beautiful when we choose to love. God made us to be beautiful and he made us to love. The first is dependent on the second. It doesn’t matter what you do or how you look or what you wear or who you are; without love we are nothing.

Thanks everyone for letting me go through these. I enjoyed it, and I hope God has used me to speak to each and every one of you individually. I’m hoping to keep with a regular posting schedule during school, so expect to hear from me next week sometime! I’ll be praying for you all. Have a great day! J

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