Recently I received a text from a young man who asked us to witness his baptism into our Lord. He had made his decision and it was not a time for the assembling of the church so he asked us if we could be there with him. We were overjoyed and honored. Then he thanked me for being instrumental in helping him arrive at his decision and how grateful he was to us for helping him find his way. I was shocked. We had never had a Bible study with him (although my husband offered several times but he was already studying with our minister), we had never shared a moment with him with our Bibles open to a passage about baptism, or repentance, or...well, any of that. I couldn't figure it out...how did we help? Later he explained the love that we showed him was just what he needed. It was a great lesson for me. I began to examine my life. I realized that I had withheld my love and compassion for so many before that could have made a difference. So, of course, I began to search the scriptures...to reconsider who I am and how I've mistreated, or maybe not mistreated, but kept my love from so many in the past.
So, I have been meditating on Job, specifically his friends. I have always been critical of his friends and have heard lesson after lesson on Job’s friends and most recently have taught about Job’s friends, and just last Sunday heard a Bible class lesson that toughed on the attitude of Job’s friends. Interesting isn’t it? I believe I have been given, providentially, the chance to take a look at Job’s friends. I am ashamed to say that there have been times when I also judged someone as not being righteous enough, felt that they got what they deserved. I am ashamed to say that there were times that even though I knew scripture, could quote it, prided myself on my knowledge of the word, but was unwilling to offer love when love is just what is needed.“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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. 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.” (I Cor. 13: 1-4).
I am ashamed to say that I did not show kindness when kindness is what will help to soften the heart. I am ashamed to say that I was like Job’s friends and was impatient with my brothers and sisters and failed to suffer long with them as the Lord has done with me, (II Peter 3:9).
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I Cor. 13: 5-7)
I am ashamed to say that I relied on obedience and failed to show love…real love, sacrificial love to my brothers and sisters.
“ Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” (I Cor. 13: 8-10)
I am ashamed to say that I considered gaining biblical knowledge was what IT was all about. I am ashamed to say that I considered myself a mature Christian; a “grown-up.” I admit that in my studies it was always curious to me how often my Lord referred to His followers, and the apostles (through inspiration) refer to us as children: Matt. 18:3, John 13:33, Gal 4:19, I John 2:1 I John 2:13, I John 2:18, I John 2:28, I John 3:7, I John 3:18, I John 4:4, I John 5:21. I prided myself on thinking I wasn’t one of “them.”
“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. 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.” (I Cor. 11-12)
I appreciate this new convert and his great heart. He is enthusiastic and trying so hard to do what is right for his Lord and family. We are encouraged by his growth and commitment to his God. But, he will probably never know how much he taught me by putting up a mirror in front of my face, allowing me to see more deeply into what God was telling me. He will probably never know how much I learned from him with that one little text that taught me what God had been trying to tell me all along; what is really important.
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13: 13).