Monday, March 13, 2006

Charity (αγάπη) {agape}

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up," ( 1 Cor. 13:4)

Whatever it is...we have some description given to us from God's Word. We can simply look at what the Bible says and use it as a measuring stick to see if we are manifesting the kind of 'love' towards others, especially towards the church (or 'the body of Christ' as the context of 1 Corinthians is dealing with), or those of the household of faith. In one verse (v.4) we are given the first five characteristics of Charity.
1. Suffereth long - Forbearing and/or patience. I find that in the flesh, it is easy to write people off or to sort of dismiss them after an exasperation of patience in dealing with them. If we are to love our enemies, how much more should we treat a brother or a sister in Christ? We are called to forbearance. While I cannot be responsible for the actions of another, I am fully responsible for my own actions. Therefore, I need to learn this vital and primary characteristic of charity and that being 'long suffering.'
2. Kind - To show ones self useful or to act benevolantly. Some writter (named Findlay ??) claimed that Paul may have even coined this term in the Greek.
3. Envieth not - Charity enables us to rejoice when God's favor is openly manifest to a brother or a sister in Christ without having to be envious or even jealous of their success. I am convinced a lot of Christians are disobedient when instead of rejoicing they get covetous, discontent, and begin to foster a character that is inward focused and then they hold a 'self pity-party.' I'm glad I am not invited to attend such a party, I would be considered a 'party pooper' in that case. Charity is satisfied and not discontent (discontent in a bad way that is).
4. Vaunteth not itself - to brag, or to boast. Charity is not only satisfied, but also self-evident. Just like revival, it doesn't need to be advertised, it always advertises itself.
5. Not puffed up - Inflate or haughty. Jesus Christ is the greatest example of humility. He said in the Bible 'learn of me, for I am meek and lowlyin heart' (Matt. 11:29). Now anyone who does not really know who Jesus is would say, 'well isn't that a haughty statement?' and it would be, except for Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. No man took it from Him, nor could any man try to even take it from Him. He willingly laid down His life. And so we know that greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends. And Jesus laid down His life for you and me. To know Jesus is to know how to love and treat others.

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