Tag Archive | sincerity

When The Answer Is, “No”

Hello beloved readers!  I’m so happy and be grateful to God finally I have much time to write a post again. This time I will talk about (once again) waiting for God’s answer of our prayer. I deliberately chose this topic because honestly, I and my husband are continuing to pray earnestly and are waiting for God’s answer. We have been praying more than a year for our second child and we are keep praying until now.

It must be admitted that waiting for God’s answer often become a big problem and give a serious impact for us as believers. I have a friend who changed drastically to be very hateful to God. He felt God didn’t love him and never cared about all prayers he had sincerely offered. He prayed faithfully that we wanted to get married with his spouse. While he prays continuously, he made his wedding preparation. However, unfortunately, suddenly, something tragic happened. His future wife had a very bad accident, suffered severe injuries, and sadly, finally died. Since then, he really hated God.

Another story, there was a faithful mother who had been praying for 28 years for her son who became a drug addict and was in and out of jail. The days and years dragged on without any good changed in her son’s life. But one day, 28 years after his mother first prayed for her something happened incredibly! Terry Williams, her son finally repented, accepted Jesus as his savior, and changed his life drastically. God finally answered His mother prayer.

My beloved friends, based on philosophical truth, God always hear and answers our prayers and there are three forms of God’s answers; “Yes”, “No”, and “wait” But empirically, not all of our requests that conveyed through prayer will be granted by God. The question is why does God answer some of our prayers and doesn’t grant our other prayers? Well, once again, based on my own experience in praying, there are two reasons. Let’s take a look together.

Internal reason

Internal reason are reasons that come from the inside of ourselves. In the other words, there’s something inside us that makes God not willing to answer of fulfill our prayers. There’s something wrong in use and our prayers. Let’s take a look to James 4:2-3

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

From the verses above, we know that there are two causes so we don’t get anything. First, we aren’t asking God (Praying), and the second is there is wrong motive behind our prayer. I will not discuss the first cause because I strongly believe every believer will always pray. I will focus on the second cause. It must be admitted that as Christian sometimes there are wrong things behind our prayer. I noted some of mistakes we often made in our prayers and this is what blocks the answer of our prayers. Let’s see together.

The Nature of prayer

When we pray ask something to God, have we thought about the basic of our request? Are our requests based on needs or wants? I give example of prayer based on need. In Our Father’s prayer, we say, “Give us our daily bread” This an example of need. There’s no one in this world doesn’t need bread. But if we pray, “Dear God, I want to have one more house with a bigger swimming pool” This not needs but wants! In fact, there’s a very essential difference between what we need and what we want. What we need must be what we want, but what we want is not necessarily we need. Needs are urgent, whereas wants is not. My dear friends, this is what makes God doesn’t want to answer our prayer and without us knowing, often the prayer we pray is dominated by wants rather than needs. God promises that He will answer our prayers, but the problem is whether what we ask for is our need or is it just a want? If our prayers haven’t been answered for a long time, let’s re-examine the nature of our prayer.

The prayer addresses/motivation

When we pray Our Father, we always said, “Our Father in Heaven” This means our prayer addressed to “Father in Heaven” And that is the right address. But wait! The problem isn’t what we say but what is your motivation when we pray. I give a small illustration. There’s a grandmother who getting senile and deaf. She promises to buy her grandson a bicycle. After a long wait, the grandson finally prayed (with a loud voice), “Father in heaven bless my food, and also please remind my grandmother of her promise to give me a bicycle” His mother when heard her son’s prayer then said, “Son, why you pray so loud? God is not deaf” then her son said, “Yes, mom. God is not deaf but grandma is deaf and senile” This illustration shows that sometimes the target or address our prayer isn’t to the Father in Heaven but to others. This illustration shows that sometimes the purpose of our prayer isn’t to the Father in heaven but to others. Sometimes our mouths say, “Father in Heaven…” but actually motivation of our heart is to insinuate, rebuke others or announce something.

My dear friends, the right prayer is a prayer submitted to the right address. Addressed to Father in Heaven from the deepest of our heart without wrong motivation. So, don’t be surprised if God doesn’t answer our prayer.  Have we address our prayer to the right address? Have we prayed with the right motivation?

The prayer times

Another reason why God doesn’t answer our prayer is about time. Time that I mean isn’t time like morning or evening but we pray for things at the wrong time or not at right time to pray for. Okay let me give an illustration like this; A ten years old beautiful girl prayed that God would give her a handsome boyfriend. Well, this’s a wrong prayer because it’s not the right time for a ten-year-old little girl thinking about dating. In this case doesn’t mean God isn’t able to give the little girl a boyfriend but God doesn’t want to give because the time isn’t right.

Another reason that is still related with time is, we often want God answer our prayer quickly. We forget that God has His own agenda and time. God’s time isn’t our time. In Isaiah 55:8 clearly God declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”

My beloved friends, if until know God doesn’t answer our prayers, let’s correct our prayers. Is there something wrong in our prayer? Is what we ask for through prayer already at the right time? Or we expect God answer our prayer as soon as possible?

Readers, the nature of prayer, the prayer addresses, and the prayer times are internal reasons why God doesn’t or hasn’t answered our prayers. Beside the internal reasons, there’s external reason that causes our prayer aren’t answered. This external reason comes from God Himself. What does it mean? It means God has His own reason to not answer our prayers. Let’s see together.

Faith test.

sometimes God is testing the strength of our faith, perseverance, and our sincerity to ask something to Him. Let’s take a look to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28. A Canaanite woman came to Jesus and begging Jesus to heal her possessed daughter (Verse 22) What was Jesus’ reaction at the time? Jesus didn’t answer a word and His disciples urged Jesus to send the woman away. At that time, didn’t mean Jesus didn’t want to help the woman but he was testing her faith and sincerity. Even when Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lose sheep of Israel(Verse 24) and said that “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” (verse 26) this woman did not take offense and leave but she justified Jesus’ words by saying, “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Finally, because of her sincerity, faith, and perseverance, Jesus helped the woman and said, “Woman, you have great faith!” (Verse 28)

My dear friends, sometimes this kind of experience is what we experience in our prayers. We may have prayed and God just kept quiet. It seems that He doesn’t care about our prayers at all, but actually He is giving us a test of faith, perseverance and sincerity. God wants to see are we still ask to Him with full of faith, sincerity, and without despair even though it seems God doesn’t hear our prayers.

Train our maturity

Another reason that God doesn’t answer our prayers or He answer our prayer but need a very long period is because He wants to treat us as grown up in faith. God wants to train our faith to be more mature. Furthermore, by not answering our prayers, we learn that in prayer isn’t not our will that happen but God’s will that happen. God will be done, not our will be done. Isn’t God who must follow us but we must follow Him.

My dear beloved readers, I will close this post by inviting all of us to once again reflect our life prayer. Let’s see if there is something wrong in the prayer we pray. Whether there are certain things in our prayers that become an obstacle so God will not answer our prayer. Also, let’s bear in our heart and mind that God has his own reason why he doesn’t answer our prayer. When the answer is, “No” Please don’t be disappointed and discouraged, don’t think that God doesn’t love and care to us, don’t hate and leave Him. When God doesn’t answer our prayer, I encourage all of us to remember that God has a plan to give more beautiful than we ask and He will give according to His will and plan as He said,

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Amen!

 

Karina Lam – Living by faith

Image source: ibelieve.com

A SPECIAL GIFT (guest post)

 

Two months ago my husband had a birthday. From some of the gifts he received, there was one gift that didn’t look as beautiful as it usually packs a gift. There were several lines of creases on the wrapping paper. It seems that the person who gave the gift had to uncover the crease of paper several times before finally succeeding in wrapping the gift. But all our impressions about the gift changed after we opened it. Not because the gift contained expensive item that was deliberately camouflaged with makeshift packaging as some people do to make a surprise. Not also because the gift contained the items we needed. The gift is “only” five small sachets of chocolate powder commonly used for instant drinks. On the sachet there was a pink paper that is usually used by children to make crafts, with congratulatory sentences and simple prayers in the typical handwriting of children. It was a gift from our niece, Joceline, who was only five years old. Instantly our hearts became warm.

Her mother told me how Joceline really loved all forms of chocolate. Usually she often whines with a sad and miserable face if her chocolate has to be given to someone else. But at the time she was very excited about wrapping her chocolate and writing a card to give to my husband. We still remember how Joceline gave her gift with a smile on her lips and sparkling eyes. Although the nominal value of chocolate powder is much lower than other gifts, but now we have more than enough reason to place the gift in a special position in our hearts.

What about us and the Father in Heaven? Have we offered the best of ourselves to the Father and pleased Him? Have we offered this whole life as a special gift to Him?

LOVE AND FAITH

In Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4 it is written the story of a poor widow who put two copper mites into the temple treasury. This passage literally tells about giving offerings in the temple, but I believe that we must have the quality of giving as the poor widow did, in every aspect of our lives. For truly everything we do in this life must be our offering and worship to God.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44 NIV)

Jesus didn’t just sit and see, but He view attentively how people put money into the temple treasury. The Lord Jesus observed and perceived each of them. His eyes penetrates to the bottom of the heart. More than just knowing the nominal value of the money, He knows every way of their lives and motivation. Among the many people who made offerings, He praised a poor widow who gave her two copper mites, the smallest and least valuable coin among the coins circulating in Judea at that time.

What was the distinguishes the poor widow’s offering from others? Were the coincidences that made offerings at that time were all rich people and this woman was the only poor person? Were there no other poor widows who also made offerings at that time? We don’t know for sure because the Bible doesn’t tell details about it. But surely this is NOT ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY and also NOT ABOUT RICH OR POOR. This is about HEART ATTITUDE AND LIFE BEHIND AN OFFERING.

Jesus’ words in verse 44 are the key: “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” ” At that time two copper mites was equal to the cost of food for one person per day. Not fancy food, of course. We must remember that she was a poor widow. The two copper mites certainly means a lot to her. It money was all she had to live on, but she gave all to God. That’s what makes her offering worth much higher than the others. In this poor widow’s offering there was a SACRIFICE based on FAITH. He will not give all her living if she didn’t has faith that God must preserve and will never leave her. In other words, letting go of all her living is the same as entrusting her life into God’s hands. That is the BEST part she can give to God.

Now let’s look at this in a broader context. Indeed, we will never be able to “give” to God because everything comes from Him:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1 NIV)

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-8 NIV)

If the whole universe including ourselves belongs to God, then what can we give to Him? Nothing at all! So, when we “give” offerings to God we are actually “offering back” what is truly His mine. This is not just money, but our entire life! Whatever we do in this life must be an offering that pleases God, but everything must be done in faith in Christ.

Faith is the assurance of our hope for God’s promise. Faith makes us willing to sacrifice because we believe that what we do in God will not be in vain. We sacrifice our pleasure in sin and fleshly desires in order to obey God’s word. Faith affirms us to be faithful until the end because we believe that there is a reward that awaits us in Heaven. And only faith makes us fully able to entrust our whole lives in His hands as long as we walk in the world. Faith must be the basis of all our actions, because without faith everything we offer is like ordinary activity without eternal value. And above all, LOVE must be our driving force and main motivation because without love all our sacrifices are nothing and useless.

…and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2b-3 NIV)

SINCERE

In previous events, Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-36; Mr 12: 38-40; Luke 11:37-54; Luke 20:45-47). These Pharisees and Scribes were people who were very respected and influential at that time. Their words were like the law that the Jews must obey. Jesus called them hypocrites, who knew and taught the truth but they didn’t do it. They look godly and holy on the outside, but they full of trash and decay inside. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV).  Everything they do is done for people to see…” (Matthew 23:5a NIV). It seems that at that time there was a special pride if it was seen as a pious and devout person, so there was a tendency to do everything in order to be seen by others. In the midst of such a spiritual atmosphere, sincerity is something rare.

Return to the poor widow with her two copper mites. What can be proud of with two copper mites compared to the offerings of rich people who must be jingling loudly when put in the offering treasury. The jingling might invite admiration and respect from the people who saw it. This was in contrast to the poor widow’s offering. There was no pride gained by this widow in the human eye even though she gave all her income. I believe that she only gave sincerely to her Lord without seeking human praise, because it was impossible for Jesus to appreciate this woman’s offering if she did it with the wrong heart.

God sees the heart more than performance. Incorrect motivation makes everything we do become wrong. Doing good but not sincere is the same as deceiving ourselves, others, and God. Sincerity means what we do and say are the same as what is in the heart. More than that, we are like the Pharisees and hypocritical scribes. If we long for our lives to be offerings that are pleasing to the Father, then all our deeds must be truly sincere and not just look beautiful on the packaging.

Everything we do in sincerity and sacrifice to give the best that is moved only by love and based on faith in Christ will be an offering that pleases God.

A HEART THAT IS BANDED TO GOD

In fact, none of our offerings can amaze and fascinate God because wealth, talents, and creativity that we offer are come from Him. No matter how good we sing, it will not be as beautiful as the singing of angels in Heaven. As great as our ministry or work that we do, there will always be weaknesses. What distinguishes one person’s offering from others is that HEART is involved because there are no things we do without involving the heart, whether our hearts are right or wrong! In the heart there is a motivation for each of our actions, which in turn will DETERMINE THE QUALITY of our offerings.

The gift from Joceline is worthless compared to other gifts we received. But because of the attitude of her heart – love, sincerity, sacrifice and willingness to provide what she herself likes, also joyful when she was giving up her gift – making her simple gift becomes a special gift. How about our hearts??

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21 NIV)

HOW FAR or TO WHOM we believe, love, sacrifice and give, it’s all DEPEND ON WHAT OR WHO IS the treasure to us. If God becomes our most valuable treasure, our hearts will be banded to Him. If our heart truly banded to God, we will definitely make Him the center and our main reason for living this life. The poor widow has offered her two copper mites to God. Now, let us rededicate our “two copper mites” – that is our whole lives – as a special gift for Father with love, faith and sincerity. I believe the Holy Spirit is with us. His strength and power will help us not only to choose what is right, but also to do it with the right heart and in a way that pleases God. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo by: Sella Irene

NO DECEIT (guest post)

Since ancient times “what appears before the eyes of men” has become a measure. Look at how a great prophet like Samuel mistakenly recognized Eliab as the anointed of God only because of his appearance or his height (1 Sam 16: 6-7). We also use this perspective often when interacting with other people, right ?! For example, sometimes we quickly conclude someone is mature and wise just because he doesn’t talk much. Even though the reality is not necessarily so. In Proverbs 17: 27-28 it is written: “He who has knowledge spares his words, [And] a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; [When] he shuts his lips, [he is considered] perceptive.” (Proverbs 17:27-28 NKJV) This shows us how easy it is to judge someone’s personality only from the outside.

Conscious or not, often our judgments and attitudes toward others are influenced by what we see and what we hear. Indirectly this makes ourselves to be a person who is more concerned with “what appears outside” like our appearance and the way we speak in order to get the “image” that we want in the eyes of others. We become a person who cares deeply about what other people say. We feel “okay” when people say we are great, cool, kind, humble, and various other compliments. On the contrary, we feel bad or even feel rejected when people say our performance isn’t as good as usual, considered boring, not smart, our opinions are not accepted, and so on. The judgment of others becomes very important to us as if it contributes to our self-worth.

Without realizing it, we carry such a mindset when worshiping and while serving God, whether to get a positive assessment from others or even to obtain God’s “favor”! We diligently come to church and serve so that others see us as godly people. We sing, close our eyes, and raise our hands in worship, but actually our minds are wandering everywhere. The prayers we offer are just strands of beautiful sentences that we speak eloquently but without faith. Our services to God is only the talent that is presented well without any life offered on the altar. Even worse, we wrap our speech with “spiritual languages” while in church, even though we often emit our emotions with inappropriate words in the work environment. We are kind and friendly to all economic strata while in church, but we often discriminate people in our daily activities. Not the kind of worship that is desired by God. What God longs for is we come to Him with sincerity, without falsity!

We will learn about this from Jesus’ conversation with Nathanael. According to tradition, Nathanael and Bartholomew were considered to be the same person, namely one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. The opinion developed since the ninth century may be based on writing a list of the names of 12 disciples in the three Synoptic Gospels (Mt 10: 1–4; Mk 3: 13-19; Lk 6: 12–16) who always juxtaposed Bartholomew’s name with Philip, while Nathanael was a friend of Philip. The story of Nathanael began when Jesus went to Galileam, where He met Philip, whom He called to follow him. Philip rejoiced that he had found Jesus and immediately invited his friend, Nathanael, to meet Jesus. Then there was a very interesting conversation between Jesus and Nathanael in John 1: 45–51.

GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.

(John 1:45-48 NIV)

Regardless of the estimate of who Nathanael really is, what is interesting is Jesus’ statement when he saw him: “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47 NIV)

There was a quality within Nathanael that Jesus likes: there is no deceit. No deceit means no guile nor duplicity. This means that everything in Nathanael’s self – his actions, his heart and mind – all are sincere, not acting, and without falsity. What appears on the surface is a reflection of what is in him, without pretense. As what appears in people’s eyes, that’s how he is. Not made up, not hypocritical. Nathanael’s sincerity was the opposite of the condition of the Israelites of that day, especially the scribes and Pharisees, who were only concerned with outward things. On different occasions Jesus criticized them: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)  In the midst of such Israeli conditions, it is not surprising that Jesus called Nathanael as truly Israelite.

No matter how good one’s performance in the human eye, one’s value is not determined by what appears outside because God’s eyes penetrate far to the bottom of the heart: “…..The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7 NIV)  God knows every thought and motivation that we don’t even realize. God wants whatever we do, more than just because we care what people say. God wants us to do our best not because we just carry out our obligations, even more than just professionalism. Let us not do something just because of politeness, especially if there is a hidden purpose.

Proverbs 23: 7 is a real example of insincerity: For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior—one who manipulates]. He says to you, “Eat and drink,” Yet his heart is not with you [but it is begrudging the cost]. (AMP version) This verse also serves as a reminder for us to be careful of kindness and hospitality accompanied by hidden intentions, as well as a warning to ourselves so that we do everything with a pure heart. God wants us to live without falsehood and not hypocrisy. A life that is in harmony between heart, mind, words, deeds. A piety without pretense. Life isn’t just good on “packaging”, but really beautiful and fragrant. This quality isn’t produced overnight, but is the result of spiritual discipline and consistency to continually decide life with a sincere and pure heart before God.

EASY TO BELIEVE IN GOD

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

(John 1:48-49 NIV)

Nathanael was surprised how Jesus could know him even though they had never met before. Shortly after hearing Jesus’ answer “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you”, Nathanael gave a spontaneous statement that showing his belief in who Jesus is: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (John 1:49).  Look, how easy for Nathanael to trust Jesus, even though Nathanael had made a skeptical statement when Philip told him about Jesus of Nazareth. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46 NIV).

Nathanael is an example of how people who are with no deceit will easily to believe in God because his heart is sincere and pure before God. Why is it sometimes difficult for us to believe in God? One of the causes is because we are not truly sincere and pure towards God. Unconsciously we still have a hidden agenda and veiled motivation for God. We don’t come to God with ” as we really are “. Often it is hidden deep in the heart, but God who sees the heart knows everything. Therefore, allow God to investigate and justify our hearts, straighten out and show our mistakes, so that there is no obstacle between us and God. Let the psalmist’s prayer before this omniscient Lord also be our prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24 NIV)

SEE GREATER THINGS THAN BEFORE

Jesus said, “You believe[h] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”

He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

(John 1:50-51 NIV)

Living with no deceit will make us uncomplicated in trusting God and easier to follow God’s guidance because we believe in Him. Walking in God’s guidance will lead us to greater things, as Jesus promised to Nathanael: “You will see greater things than that”. Larger things aren’t just about miracles, God’s help, blessings, promotions, and things like that. Much bigger than all of that is the knowledge of God. Jesus said to Nathanael: “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” This is similar to Jacob’s dream at Bethel in Gen. 28:12, but this time with a special revelation regarding the Son of Man. Previously Nathanael acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God but Jesus stated that He is the Son of Man, as prophesied in Daniel 7:1-14. This equipped Nathanael’s understanding of Jesus. When we read the rest of the story, Nathanael was one of those who saw Jesus when He appeared on the shore of the lake of Tiberias after His resurrection in John 21:2.

It is a gift to be allowed to know God personally, because in fact we will not be able to know God if He doesn’t reveal Himself to us. If at this time we can trust and know God, it is because the Holy Spirit has placed the seeds of faith in our hearts. This is Paul’s statement that understands how valuable the knowledge of God is:

But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life]. But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ (Phillipians 3:7-8 AMP)

Believing and knowing Christ is the most valuable thing in life. Without Christ we will be lost, aimless, and unsaved. Therefore let us faithfully follow Christ. Let’s keep living in sincerity and true piety with no deceit, so that we become people who are easily formed by God and obey Him. By continuing to believe and live in His guidance we will increasingly know Him and experience greater things with Him in all areas of our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (Edit with: pixlr app)

A True Love

True Love -Karina's Thought- Paul Militaru (2)

 

I begin this post with an old inspiring and touching story from China. There was an old grandfather named Bai Fang Li. He was living in Tianjin, China. What is interesting thing from this old man? The most interesting thing from him is even though he was live in shortage, he had has very rich heart. Poverty was not being a reason for him to keep giving to others. He was called to give donations to schools and universities in Tianjin city to help more than 300 poor children in order to able obtain an education for their future. Many years he was pedaling his rickshaw to get money in order to increase amount of his contributions.

He lived in an old and rusty hut in a slum area of the city where many rickshaw operators and garbage collectors live and he also lived without thinking of his own needs so that he could give more and more. Two raisin cakes and fresh water became his lunch menu and just a piece of meat or an egg for dinner. Regardless of weather conditions he was always pedaling his rickshaw from 6 am to 8 pm. “it is okay I am suffered”, but let that poor children can go to school “he said. When he was 90 years old, he realized that he was no longer able to pedal his rickshaw. His last saving that amounted five hundreds Yuan donated all to a school. He said, “I could not to pedal a rickshaw again. I cannot give a donation anymore. It might be my last donation that I could give” It was makes all teachers in that school crying. Three years later grandpa Li passed away in poverty. Yet, behind his poverty, during his lifetime he has been contributed a total of three hundred and fifty thousand Yuan. He devoted his life fully to help poor children who could not afford to school. What an inspiring story, right?

Now, what is the message of the inspiring story for us as Christians?  In the midst of the world which centered on self-interest, where the caring to others getting scarce, what was done by grandpa Li pointed out that there are still people who have a noble heart  more than a gold in this world. He was still loves and care to others though he lived in poverty. I called it “A True Love”

Apostle Paul describes love so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,

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.

Depiction of love in those verses so beautifully summarized by grandfather Li’s action. His contribution was not just limited by sympathy words but all real embodied through the sacrifices that he did for the sake of helping those children who did not have opportunity to get an education. I wonder, from the billions of people in this world, how many grandpa Li who care about each other and willing to sacrifice just for helping others? A poor man like grandpa Li wanted to do it, while many rich people just sat quietly does not have concern for the people around who really need help.

Holy Bible said, Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18) Grandpa Li did it so beautiful through the concrete action even in the midst of his poorness. He was not being a selfish or just thinking about himself but he even willing to sacrifice all-out until the last of his strength to help other. He also did all of that was not solely to seek popularity or honored by people. I think, for him have a decent life is more important than having popularity! Please remember he was just a very old rickshaw driver. He really had a sincerity and true love to helping each other.

Grandpa Li was gone but his devotion will continue to be remembered by millions people in this world. I am convinced despite physically he suffered, but his heart happy to be able to do something for others. He realized that it would be happier if can give rather than receive.

…‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Act 20:35)

After I read and ponder this inspiring story, I conclude that there are some important things that we could get from this inspiring story and I called it as the value of true love.

First, Initiative! True love has an initiative. This poor old man has initiative express his love by reaching out his hand to help others. It is same with God.  God loves us not in a passive ways. He not just waiting us to love Him first but God directly reached out His hand to express His love to us with a very beautiful ways. John said,

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Furthermore, Paul said,

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

The second, beside has an initiative, grandpa Li was active in order to could express his love to others by working tirelessly pedaling his rickshaw. He not expresses his love just by his words but also by action as it is written in 1 John 3:18.

Third, grandpa Li has a great caring to others interests. He realized that there are hundreds poor children need help and threatened could not school and get a proper education. God’s word reminds us to not merely attach great importance to our own need and interests, but also pay attention to others needs and interests.

Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:4)

Be emphasized again in 1 John 3:17,

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

Fourth, sacrifice! This is a thing that quite difficult to do. Jesus said,

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

Not only with words but directly Jesus proved to be willing to give his life for the mankind salvation by dying on the cross. And this is then followed by His disciples willing to sacrifice their life just for proclaim God’s word to all over the world. Not many people are willing to sacrifice to help others while he himself lives in hardship. This old poor man was doing this thing so beautiful. He was willing to sacrifice for the sake of helping others. He was willing to lived in the slums and eat potluck so he could save his money.

My dear readers, it is so easy we say that we have love. But the question is what kind of love? Are we having true love that has initiative? Whether we have an active love that accompanied with action? How big our concern to others interests? And are we willing to sacrifice to others? Whether in everyday life we have to apply the principles of love as God wants? This evening I would like to encourage you to learn from this inspiring story. Let the story of grandpa Li could be a model for us to express the true love to others. We may not like grandpa Li who really live in poverty, so let us have an initiative to give  what we  could give to helping each others who in need. Do not be discouraged and ashamed if not be able to give much as long as we give with sincerity. God does not look at how much that we can give but rather to look our sincerity, our willingness to sacrifice and truly based on true love. God really appreciate to those who are willing to sacrifices to give in the shortage.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)

 Suppose that we could not help people in the form of matter, we can help others in another form such as giving a tender smile and a warm hug to our friends who are in grief, spend our time to giving encouragement to people who are discouraged, or put them in our prayer list, and maybe just do very simple daily things such as say “hello” and asking “how are you. Are you okay?” It all will give a big impact to others. Let’s pray to God ask for the strength, wisdom and have a sensitive heart to the others difficulties so we always could express our true love to others.  Let us pray that true love remain thrives in our lives and keep it warm because we live in the world where wickedness is increased. As Jesus reminds us, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12) and let us could be a window for those people around us to know and experience God’s love through our true love. Amen.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (I John 4: 7-8)

Karina – Living by Faith

For the detailed story and photos of Bai Fang Li click here

I wish to thank you to Paul Militaru for the awesome and beautiful picture

Photo by Paul Militaru  http://photopaulm.com