Love does not dishonour others

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Image source: joebehr @flickr

Image source: joebehr @flickr

I found myself perusing the newspapers and magazines at my local supermarket recently. I’m always amazed when I check the front pages of some magazines. They seem to be obsessed with the state of celebrities’ marriages and the size of women’s waists.

The reason that magazines publish this kind of material though is that we, their potential readers, have a great interest in celebrity gossip. Of course, it’s not just celebrity gossip. When I go to work, my colleagues are always keen to share the latest rumour surrounding someone we work with.

Quite often, there is little basis of truth behind these stories. They’re often based on an overheard whisper, or a comment taken out of context. They’re not out and out lies, but such stories could best be described as half truths.

It can be very easy to become a conduit for gossip. If we hear something potentially interesting about someone else, we can be quick to pass it on.

As Christians we have a responsibility to rise above rumour and gossip. Jesus tells us that one of the most important commandments is to love our neighbour as ourselves. The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, helpfully tells us some of the characteristics of love. One is that love does not dishonour others.

If we discuss the lives of others, without knowing the full truth behind any story, that is precisely what we are doing; we are dishonouring them. What is more, if we pass on a story that we know know to be untrue, we are guilty of slander. Jesus himself described slander as ‘evil’ and said it ‘defiles a person’.

Let’s resolve this morning to steer clear of gossip and rumour. Let’s be sure that we do not dishonour another person with our words. And let’s ensure that we do not defile ourselves by slandering others. Instead, let’s aim to bring glory and honour to Christ with every word we speak.

As featured on Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Inspirational Breakfast’.

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Love does not envy

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

My son, Daniel

My son, Daniel

My wife, Claire, and I recently welcomed our first child into the world. Daniel is a smiling, happy little boy who seems to bring joy everywhere he goes.

Prior to his birth, Claire and I enrolled on an NCT course. We found the course very helpful, not least because we met a group of good people who have become friends.

A few weeks ago we found ourselves at a barbecue at one of our NCT friend’s houses. I have to say, I was rather envious of their home. Whilst we live in a small flat, they have a large, detached house with a substantial garden.

I’m sure I’m not alone in envying what other people have from time to time. I’m sure that at some point you will have found yourself envying your friend’s home, or their car, or their summer holiday.

If we are to live by Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbours as ourselves, however, we should aim to steer clear of envy. In chapter thirteen of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that love does not envy. If we find ourselves envying others, then, we are lacking in love for them.

Envy is like jealousy. It suggests that we are not happy with our own lives and the blessings that we have received from our heavenly father. It indicates a wrong attitude, suggesting that we are focused on acquiring ‘stuff’.

Rather than envying others, we should be glad for what we have, be grateful to God for his provision, and pleased for the success of others. We should give thanks that ultimately our treasure is heaven, secured for us by Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection three days later.

I pray today that our attitude towards all those we encounter will be one of love, and that any envy we feel towards others will be eradicated by the Holy Spirit.

As featured on Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Inspirational Breakfast’.

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Love is Kind

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
School Rules: Source http://www2.needham.k12.ma.us/eliot/technology/lessons/History_Needham/schoolhouse/photo/beach_06/beach_06.htmLife is full of rules. Stick to the speed limit, return your library books on time, put the loo seat down after you’ve finished.

As a teacher rules are a significant part of my life. As Head of Year 7 it is my job to ensure that rules are enforced. Thankfully in my school we don’t have hundreds of rules. We have one main rule, and that is simply Be Kind.

I think that’s a pretty good rule. I think that the apostle Paul would agree. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 he tells us that ‘love is kind’. If we strive as Christians to love our neighbour, as Jesus commands his followers to do, one of the simplest ways of doing so is simply to follow my school’s most important rule, to ‘Be Kind’.

It sounds simple enough. Yet if we are to Be Kind to everyone whom we encounter, it can require a bit of effort. It’s easy to Be Kind to those whom we like, but what about our irritating neighbours, the person at work who routinely mocks us because of our beliefs, or the person at church who bores us over coffee after the service every single week? Being kind to people that we don’t really like can be a challenge.

Jesus is the ultimate example of kind living. For him, being kind was not just a thought or an attitude, but an action that defined who he was. He demonstrated kindness to all those whom he encountered through his compassion. Even as hung on the cross, dying for you and for me, he demonstrated kindness to those who crucified him by praying for their forgiveness.

Let us strive today to be kind to all those whom we encounter, displaying Christ’s compassion even to those we dislike.

As featured on Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Inspirational Breakfast’.

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Love is Patient

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Image courtesy of streamishmc @flickr.Do you have a favourite day of the week? If you do, I’d guess that Mondays wouldn’t be your top choice. For most, Monday is the beginning of another hard week at work. But the beginning of the week presents us with the opportunity for a fresh start, a chance to put away our failings of last week and to resolve to do better this week.

As we begin this week, why not reflect on Jesus’ words in Mark’s gospel, chapter twelve, when he states that one of the greatest commandments is to love your neighbour as yourself.

Have you stopped to wonder what it means to love your neighbour? In chapter thirteen of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he describes the characteristics of love. The first is that love is patient.

In the whirl of twenty-first century life patience is often in short supply. When our train arrives late, or our computer won’t start, or a colleague is late for a meeting, we can be quick to anger and hatred may build up within us. When things don’t go smoothly we can sometimes feel anger and frustration bubbling up within us, just waiting to explode.

This is not the way that we are called to be. Patience is a characteristic of love which should not just be evident to those around us, but should flow out of us towards all whom we encounter. According to Psalm 145, ‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love’. We should aspire to emulate this.

I pray that we might be full of patience today and in the week ahead.

As featured on Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Inspirational Breakfast’.

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A wise man who built his house on the rock

‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’

Matthew 7:24-27

Some friends of mine recently built a new chalet on the beach close to where I go on holiday. The building replaced an old chalet that sadly burnt down. The construction caused a few headaches, not least because the building was to be constructed literally on the beach, raised up on stilts to prevent the tide flooding it twice a day. They had hoped to use the tried and tested construction method of sinking a few feet of concrete into the beach and then bolting wooden piles onto these strong foundations, before building a base on the top of the stilts. The council, however, had other ideas. They required my friends to sink piles thirty feet into the sand before starting work on the chalet. This clearly had cost implications on the build as well as extending the time taken quite considerably. Still, at least they can sleep confidently in their smart new chalet, firm in the knowledge that nothing short of a cataclysmic event will bring their holiday home down!

Jesus points out several times in the gospel that true faith needs to be firmly rooted in the word of God. A faith that is not built on firm foundations will soon come crashing down as soon as trouble or hardship is encountered. A faith that is rooted in scripture will endure through life’s difficulties and disasters. When a person bases their faith on the teaching in the Bible they will understand that being a Christian does not mean that we won’t face difficulties, that God will not test someone beyond their capabilities, that problems are the means by which faith gets deeper and we become more like Christ, that God never abandons his children but sends his Holy Spirit to protect and guide believers, and that ultimately, if we share in Christ’s sacrifice we will be rewarded with a place in God’s heavenly kingdom. And that’s just the start of it!

In today’s passage, Jesus states that it is not enough even to hear and believe the word of God. He tells his listeners that it is those who hear his words AND put them into practice who will find their faith able to endure the hardships of this life without falling with a great crash. Coming at the end of an extended section of teaching, known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is evidently imploring all those who have listened to him to pay careful attention to all that he has said and to apply it to their own lives. For us today, who read this teaching, perhaps this is an opportune moment to flick back through the preceding two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, and to pray that we will strive to apply all that we learn from this important text in our own lives.

Has your life been transformed by the Sermon on the Mount? Do you strive not just to read and understand Jesus’ teaching but to build your life upon it? It is a wise person who puts Jesus’ teaching into practice, but a foolish person who reads it, yet fails to act on it. Are you wise or foolish?