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Love One Another

2-loveoneanother

“Above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8)

We all have those people in our life that are “difficult to love”. For some reason or another, the “feeling” of love doesn’t come easily. It may be character issues, temperament, or things the other person has done to us. If we’re honest, we’ve all been on both sides of this situation. I know for a fact there have been times in our marriage that it was difficult for Laura to love me. Thankfully though, her love for me is rooted in something much deeper than feeling.

According to Peter, loving each other is essential to our walk with God. Above everything else, we are called to “maintain an intense love for each other”. This emphasis on love echoes many other verses in the Bible, including the well-known 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, the bible goes so far to say that love must be the basis of all our acts of service. For without it, it will profit no one.

The word “love” in these verses is translated in the greek as “agape”. When the Bible says that “God is love”, this is the definition being used. This is not a love that comes naturally to us (like family, friendship, or romantic loves). Agape love has divine origin. It is unmerited, unconditional and redemptive. It seeks nothing in return.

This is the same love we received from God himself (John 3:16). As we receive this love from God, we are filled to show the same love to others. Peter goes on to say that this type of love “covers over a multitude of sins”. It is love that has the ability to redeem and restore. It’s not easy (we always prefer to love when it “feels natural”)—but this type of love is what matters most.

So as we ponder what it means to love each other, may we consider first God’s incredible agape love for us. May His love motivate us to love others without seeking anything in return. May this type of love strengthen our marriages, families and friendships. And may we pursue this love more than anything else. For we know that in the end, ‘the only thing that matters.. is faith expressing itself through (agape) love.” (Galatians 5:6)

Contributed by Jason Van Dyke, God’s Fingerprints

When I think of my Successful Friends

When I Think of My Successful Friends

Written By Lily Lin, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

Since young, I’ve had the privilege of having friends with brilliant minds who went on to achieve enviable success in school and at work. Many of them graduated from prestigious schools and are now holding well-paying positions as computer engineers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and financial experts. Some even went on to do their doctorates at well-known institutions and are now doing research or teaching at leading universities.

When I think of them, I notice that they have one thing in common: every single one of them is earnest, diligent, disciplined, and persevering. They are living proof of what inspirational author Jim Rohn once said: “Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” It has been a tremendous blessing to have such talented friends at each stage of my life.

Whenever I am discouraged or tempted to be lazy in my work or ministry, the example of these friends spurs me on. They also remind me of the Apostle Paul, a man who was totally dedicated to the gospel and who used whatever he had to spread the Word of Christ and bring people to the Lord (Colossians 1:28-29).

Of course we must remember and recognize that each of us has different talents, went through different education paths, and grew up in different environments. This means that even if all of us put in the same amount of effort, some people will achieve greater success than others. If we focus only on the benefits of success, we could become bitter that we do not enjoy the same talents and resources as these people do, and become envious of their success. But if we view each person’s talents and resources as gifts entrusted to them and understand that success is not tied to individual happiness, our response will change entirely.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who divides his property among his servants to manage, according to their abilities, before going on a journey. One servant gets five talents, another gets two, and a third gets one. The first two faithfully exercise their abilities and earn an extra five and two talents respectively, while the third doesn’t earn anything. What’s interesting is that although the two first servants get different amounts, the master’s response to both of them are exactly the same: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23)

Everything we possess is given by God, and one day, we must account to Him about how we use what we have been given. So we need to use our resources wisely and make the most of our talents, so that we might share what we have with others for the glory of God. How clever we are or how much we have is not important, and neither is the kind of success we achieve in the end.

As Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I hope and pray that each of us can achieve the kind of success God desires for us on life’s stage.

 

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Are-there-Real-Friendships-in-this-World-

Are there Real Friendships in this World?

Written By Soo Yi, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese

Whom will you call a friend? Is it just someone you can have a meal and watch movies with? Or is it someone you can chat and gossip with? What kind of person is he or she? We often describe a true friend as someone who will stick with us through thick and thin, who values us, and who won’t hurt or betray us. But friends can change, and so can friendships.

When I went to Taiwan to study, I took the effort to make many friends so that I would not be lonely. Many of them were fun-loving—some would skip class—and I enjoyed their company. We would celebrate our birthdays together, and travel together. At the time, I felt like they were all the friends I would ever need.

Because we enjoyed hanging out together, we decided to work together on projects in class. That’s when things started to change. While preparing for our presentations, we started to differ in our opinions. Some even found excuses to skip the discussions because they didn’t want to do the presentations. We may have started out as close friends, but our affections towards one another changed completely. As we began to argue more, we drifted apart, and soon, we parted ways.

I still wanted companionship, however, so I started hanging out with a new group of friends. This group enjoyed drinking and singing in karaoke clubs. While I joined them, I realized that their company and activities did not satisfy my longing for true friendship. I felt empty inside, and started to ask myself: What am I doing? Are these people my friends? Are there any real friendships in this world?

The answers to these questions came when I started going to church again.

While I was a “second-generation Christian”—I was brought up in a Christian family—I didn’t like going to church, and hadn’t gone for a very long time. But someone invited me to her church, and after spending some time with people there, I realized that they were different somehow. They didn’t gossip, yet they had plenty to talk about. They didn’t go clubbing and drinking, yet they had plenty to laugh about. They didn’t despise nor criticize one another; instead, they listened to one another, and encouraged and supported each other. It gave me an inkling of true friendship was all about.

Their behaviour also piqued my curiosity. How did they do it? I wondered. How did they find it in them to care so much for each other, and where did all the joy come from?

Then I found out the source of their friendship—love. These people could love one another because they were loving with the love of Christ, and seeing one another through Christ’s eyes.

The experience taught me some new lessons about friendship. I realized that we often talk about liking our friends. But loving them is more difficult. Can we really love our friends without any reservation? The answer is: Yes, we can, because of Christ’s love. As 1 John 4:19 says: “We love because [God] first loved us.”

And because real friends love each other, they help each other grow, and pick each other up when they fall. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”

My new friends in church also showed me that ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ is our best friend. Only He will never change. We can share our joys, sorrows, and troubles with Him, because He has promised to help us, support us, and walk with us through our journey of life. We can rely completely on Him, no matter what the circumstances are. When we allow Jesus to become our best friend, we can experience His love, learn to love others, and make true friends.