Redeem regrets: Love with actions - 4 August 2020
By Louise Gevers
Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. Love one another warmly as Christian brothers and sisters, and be eager to show respect for one another. Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. Share your belongings with your needy fellow-Christians, and open your homes to strangers.
As a child, I loved the story of redemption of The Selfish Giant, who meanly builds a high wall to keep others out of his garden, but through the innocence of children, learns compassion and breaks it down again to allow them in to enjoy it. What was captivating was that the snowy, winter garden could burst into beautiful, new life when the giant stopped being selfish, and shared his garden with the children who loved playing in it happily together.
The giant experienced that life without love is like a garden without flowers and birds; the flowers, like love, are the splashes of colour and exotic shapes that add intricate beauty and textures to the various green grasses and shrubs of life; the birds bring the joy of love with their cheery singing and flitting about. The giant suffered many years without these delights before he realised that he had the power to change his ways. He did not have to live with eternal winter, but could break down the wall.
Where does love fit into our lives? God planted the original garden in Eden, and His design included everything delightful, but Adam and Eve’s stay there was short because of falling into sin. God has planted our gardens too, and how they look depends on how we love. It is we who enable or destroy their beauty.
Love is something we feel inside, but it is only real when it is put into action. When we actively care for one another on all levels, God sees the outward proof of our righteousness. By doing practical things like sharing our food with the hungry, providing shelter, clothing the naked, caring for our families, living justly and freeing the oppressed (Isaiah 58:6-7) we are loving in the way God loves, and sees as sincere in us.
What Paul teaches about love is that we need to live humbly with others because, “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour 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.” In fact, “Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 )
Whenever things go wrong, we discover that love has been neglected; but it is never irredeemable, because “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19); so true love is rooted in Him. Like the giant, we can break down the wall we built, banish the winter, then love wholeheartedly.
How is your garden growing?
Prayer: Father, Your love is eternal; help us to know that, by Your grace, we have the power to change how we love and to put right the wrongs of the past. Amen