Above All Else, Love
A New Teaching Article By Joseph Averitt
Just imagine with me for a moment. You’re walking home from a long day of work. It’s late, as a cold breeze surrounds your path picking up dust from the dirt paved trails leading up the hillside you reside on. The sound of wind causes the metal of nearby shacks to crash together. This is no longer a cause of fright for you. Your mind is preoccupied with more stressful circumstances. As you come close to your one room shack, you desire of nothing but sleep, but you can’t. You have a younger sister and a baby brother to feed and take care of. You walk in to find your younger sister holding your baby brother next to a small fire surrounded by a circle of small rocks and brick fragments trying to keep warm. There is not one blanket, no shoes, or extra clothes in the house.
Your only source of heat is also your only way of cooking. Not knowing how, but knowing you have to feed them, you look around and find about a cup of rice and one potato. You place them into a rusted metal pot along with some water that came from a nearby lake and place it over the fire. You begin to look at the small amount of food being prepared and look over at your two young siblings. You take little for yourself and give the most to them.
After all is done and you begin to lay down to sleep on a dirt floor, memories of your parents and their death a year ago begin to surface as tears fall, your eyes start to close and you fall asleep just to wake up and do it all over again in the morning.
"After all is done and you begin to lay down to sleep on a dirt floor, memories of your parents and their death a year ago begin to surface as tears fall, your eyes start to close and you fall asleep just to wake up and do it all over again in the morning.
I am sure this has already affected you in some way, right? Remember all of this, but now add one important part I left out. You are only 9 years old. Shocked? I was! But this is common life for numerous children around the world.
When I first visited Guatemala, I didn’t know what to expect. Yes, just like you, we all have seen the commercials for sponsoring a kid in other countries and have viewed videos and pictures of how these countries are, but none of that prepared me for this. There is that saying “A picture paints a thousand words,” but this was not the case.
While I was in Guatemala, I did all the “normal” things you do while working in the missions field. Feed the poor, hand out clothes to the needy, visit the orphanages, witness and pray for people, help build structures that were needed at the time, street drama and music, and so forth. It was all about helping change the world and making a difference. I thought I was going over there to help them change, but what actually happened was they changed ME!
I noticed these poor helpless people who had next to nothing, possess one thing we take very much for granted. Something we misused and really do not fully understand. Something that is the essence for their survival and well being, simply “LOVE”!
The 9 year old and his siblings only had little in life, but one thing that they possessed was “love.” This love is what kept them going and held them together. “We are nothing unless we love” according to 1st Corinthians 13. Although these orphans had “nothing”, they “were something.”
Love is a word that is misused, not fully understood. It is abused sometimes for personal gain. It has lost its meaning and power to a lot of us, some people don't even believe in love anymore, but to them it was all they had and made them become something.
Lets read 1st Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Reading this we see that love is described as not only an action, but also it is a choice. You have to decide to overcome the opposites of these descriptions and walk in the way love is supposed to be. To be patient, you at one time had to be frustrated. But if you have love, you chose to be patient instead of being frustrated. If you can stand there hungry for days with no food or money and look at someone who is wealthy and eating food, AND not envy what they have, you are closer to love than most people in the world. Although this young family had nothing, they never envied someone for having more. Everything in this passage I saw in the orphaned family and many others while in Guatemala.
•1st Corinthians 16:14 - “Let ALL you do be in LOVE.”
•John 13:35 - “By this all will know you are my disciples, if you have LOVE for one another”
•1st Corinthians 8:1 - “...Love builds up.”
•1st Corinthians 13:3 - “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not LOVE, I gain nothing.”
•Ephesians 4:1-2 - “I there, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in LOVE,”
Love is such a powerful word. It is used in the bible 697 times. Love is God and God is Love! In fact 1st John 4 states “Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is Love.” If you can't love, you can't know God. Put yourself back in the shoes of this orphaned family. If that was you, would you know love? Would you have love and all the characteristics of it?
We all might be reading this, and want to help in someway. But World Improvement doesn't start with a donation. It doesn't start with a trip overseas. It doesn't even start with sending Bibles or food to these countries. It starts with YOU making a choice of living a lifestyle of LOVE. We can give away all that we have, but if we do not have LOVE, we have gained nothing. Our efforts were meaningless and in vain. You want to “Make A Difference”? Then have “LOVE”! By having love the world will see that YOU are a follower of Christ. We will not be able to see change without love, because love is the power we need to change the world. Two thousand years ago, one act of love changed the world forever when God gave his Son to die for us. I encourage you, no matter where you are in life, whether you have been a Christian for years or if you just came into a relationship with Christ, ask God to reveal love to you. Once you capture what love is, you will begin to see every area of YOUR life change, and then you will see World Improvement. You want to help change the world? It first starts with YOU!
*All scripture references came from ESV
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