22 Oct 2014 by Jason Law CM –
This week, Glad Tidings PJ is celebrating their Missions Week, and last weekend, 18-19th of October 2014, Dr Teresa Chai shared about the heartbeat of missions. Many Christians are aware of this calling upon their lives. Many go through hardship and trouble to fulfill it. However, underlying all mission work, there is one thing that is central, and that is the heart of love.
Impactful and effective mission work cannot be done without the Grace of God, which is primarily about His love and the expression of that love through our work. Taking the calling from 1 John 3:16-18, and the exposition from 1 Corinthians 13, Reverend Teresa Chai communicated about what true love in action really looks like.
1 John 3:16-18New King James Version (NKJV)
The Outworking of Love
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
The Significance of 1 Corinthians 13
Reverend Chai imparted that the passage of 1 Corinthians 13 is an authentic picture of what true love is. It gives us a truly Biblical teaching about Love in Action, and a comprehensive description of love. It even gives us a context from which the practical aspects of mission work can be based on.
Beyond describing what love is, 1 Corinthians 13 also explains the misuse and misunderstanding of spiritual gifts as well as talents and abilities. All this is given to us in bite-size pieces so that we may more easily understand these aspects and apply them in a practical way.
This understanding is important to Christians so that we can live to its fullest the kind of lives that is purposed for us by God. Our motivation for mission work ought to be based on this passage about agape love. Similarly with our talents and abilities, for they had been given to us as believers, so that we can carry out God’s will in our lives.
The Possibility of Misuse of Our Talents and Gifts
Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians out of a genuine concern for them. In it, he warns the Corinthian church of the subtle ways in which spiritual gifts can be misused. Among these, are the dangers of pride and exploitation. True love gives no room to hypocrisy, and is derived from a motive to serve out of concern and care. It centers on a desire to honour our Saviour, by being a testimony to righteousness and a blessing to those His heart bleeds for. Reverend Chai stressed that there is no room for hypocrisy when serving God.
The Pharisee give so that they can be seen to live holy lives, but the widow gave her two mites, sacrificially and unseen by most, except by Jesus. Many Christians serving today do so in very challenging environments, without any visible pay-off, or sometimes, even a sense of thankfulness from those they serve, and the temptation to give up comes so easily. Luke 21:1-4 reminds us of true sacrificial giving and that every act we do for God and others is noticed by Him.
The Widow’s Two Mites
21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
What Love Is And What It Is Not
Love in action is not an abstract or passive thing, discussed academically, and then forgotten. It is active and beats with a pulse of its own. It does not simply ‘feel patient’, it is patient. It does not take pride in the results produced, but rejoice in the fruits of the truth in people’s lives. It bears all things, perseveres, and suffers long. Love protects, with a trust in the workings of God, not just desiring the welfare of others, but striving for it. Primarily, it is seen through a lens of genuine hope, a hope that is infectious and passes on to the lives of others around us.
Love is not good works, for good works can be done from the wrong motives. Paul gives a comprehensive list of what love is not:
- Love Does Not Envy
- Love Does Not Boast; It Is Not Proud
- Love Does Not Dishonor Others
- Love Is Not Self-seeking
- Love Is Not Easily Angered
- Love Does Not Keep Records of Wrongs
- Love Does Not Delight In Evil
- Love Does Not Rejoice In Lies
What True Love Does
True love levels all of us, and we come to an awareness that we are all on the same level with God. In God’s Kingdom, there are no 1st class or 2nd class citizens; God’s love comes equally to one and all. Along with this awareness, we also come to a realization that love is not about how smart we are or preaching down to others, but a genuine desire to bring them to a healthy relationship with God and everything that comes with it.
For Christians, even for those who find themselves lacking, 1 Corinthians 13 is God reaching down to us to change us and make us what He has purposed for us to be. The call of mission and love is an opportunity to change, from previous self-centered lives, to meaningful ones, with the power to impact others, and a capacity to leave a Godly legacy. People filled with true love see the business of loving others as a privilege in Christ Jesus and want to share this with others.
The Importance of Proper Focus in the Mission Field
Reverend Chai shared that she knows the reality of working in the mission field for she has been involved in it for years. There are times when you need to possess a towering faith in the provision and protection of God. In some areas, being a missionary means not even being able to have a sense of security about safety and the next day.
It is the reason why the true motive for missions work is so important. Her counsel is to never do our mission work from a sense of guilt, condemnation, or obligation. In order to be effective missionaries for God, we must first understand the Love of God, and are able to love ourselves with the true understanding of what love is. This comprehension will sustain us in difficult times.
1 Corinthians 13 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Greatest Gift
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there aretongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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