Love at its Fullest

There can never be a satisfying definition of love. I must admit those given by Merriam-Webster, Oxford, and others ran fall short of this wonderful virtue that I am feeling inside. It speaks of an array of facets that are so pleasing to be spoken of.

True love is always sacrificial. It is willing to think of the good of others first, before the self, and in fact delights in doing it. And, most often, to some extent it is willing to give good things to others even at the expense of hurting the self.

Genuine love is selfless. It is a selfish-less act. It is an emotion that could only be satisfied by seeing that the highest need and desire of others are met even if the self loses everything. It is like being sacrificial at the highest degree.

Candid love delights in the truth. If you love someone, you are willing to give him or her the truth – and it includes the kind of truth that hurts. The truth that corrects and rebukes, the powerful truth that exposes the painful reality.

Superb love has great tolerance and patience. It is able to forgive – without limits, to the good sense. Not just seven times, but seventy times seven times.

The list of the good qualities of love can go on and on and fill the pages of an entire book. And all of it leads to the Superb kind of Love – the love that is willing to give life for the others. The kind of love that is exemplified by Jesus Christ, when He gave up His life in ransom of the sinful.

Now, that is real love.

 

 

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Almost Four Days

Dr. Mariana checking the oral health of a woman.
Dr. Mariana checking the oral health of a woman.

God taught me wonderful new things during the recent four-day medical mission done at the place where our current local church is. The experience is overwhelming, fruitful, challenging, and uplifting.

It was headed by the Mercy Link and the Youth With a Mission, targeting the island of Mindoro for the dental, medical, and mission outreach. The doctors, nurses, and medical technicians were coming from different countries – Brazil, New Zealand, Korea, and the United States.

Their arrival to our place at Lumangbayan san Teodoro was truly God’s answer to our long-time prayers. We had been seeking God on how we could provide medical assistance to the community and at the same time offer them the friendship of Jesus.

Their outreach started on Monday morning, May 6 and ended on Thursday, May 9 at midday. Almost four days. Days  that granted me some helpful thoughts to live by.

1.) It is not about what we could receive, but what we could possibly give. The direction of love is always not towards the self, but always towards the service of others. I went there with very little pocket money and resources, challenging the provision of God. As I was trying my best to keep up with my physical needs, the unexpected happen – someone from the Church took away my reserved bowl of fish! I was expecting that they would be the ones who would give me assistance, but the opposite happened. Anyway, it is about what I could give, not what I could receive.

2.) Trusting in God does mean not underestimating Him. Continuing the first learning above, God showed me that my ‘trust’ wasn’t great enough. Truly trusting Him would mean being open to whatever ways God could open up and spill over His resources – in ways that we have not possibly thought possible. For my example I was worrying about my food – but God gave me extra that for two times my food was spoiled!

3.) Be always ready to Hear His Word and heed Him. On the second day of the Medical Mission, I was commissioned by God to take every opportunity to share His Word. That was very clear to me on His Word. Yet for so many times I let my hesitance and weaknesses took over me – how I regret those times that I could have shared the Gospel and invite them to the Church! Those missed opportunities – could never be brought back.

4.) Strive to build relationships.  Offering medical assistance means a lot to the needy people. But making them see and feel that their presence and friendship is special to us is a different thing – it will make them stay with us even after our medical resources are exhausted. The diagnoses and medicines provide physical healing, but when wrapped in love they will also prove to give spiritual and emotional healing.

5.) True humility always seeks out to serve – not minding the self. This is so true for the servanthood example of Jesus found on Phil. 2:5-8. Jesus took aside personal glory and instead embraced the life of a human servant all for the sake or true service. True service always has the heart of humility at its center.

6.) Give your best shot every moment. Every deed, especially those done for God and His Kingdom should truly demand the best of us. This is a helpful mindset. Not everything could be repeated, once done, that’s it. It’s either we exerted a mediocre effort of our very best. The same specific goals, in the same place for the same group of people – a specific ministry – once accomplished, could very rarely be expected to happen again.

God, You are the Supreme Lord of the universe. The Only One who is Sovereign. You have entrusted us so much, may You find us faithful and diligent. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I Tried to Give Out of Love But…

Recently I tried to express love to other people by returning the same kind of favor I received regarding my studies. Last year as a graduating student in a Bible College, some of my friends helped me to pay for my tuition fees amounting to more than P 11,000. Their helped subsidized the cost by almost 50%. So, this academic year I also tried to help a certain student financially, but it wasn’t easy and it revealed the weakness of my love.

She is a second year student at the City College. Her family is poor and decided to temporarily stop her schooling. Out of urgent decision to express love and appreciation for an aspiring student, I told her that I would pay for the half of her tuition fees.

She told that to her parents and they let her study again, banking on that ‘word of promise.’ However, as I was asking her some simple questions, it gave me some doubts if she was really deserving. I knew that the minimum grade to qualify for the academic scholarship in her school is only 80%, which she told me she could not possibly attain for the very disappointing reason that she is a lazy student, she admitted. Wow, a thought crossed my mind, is it really that she’s lazy, or is just shy to admit that she lacks the brains? The idea that she’s not brilliant is more tolerable though than being lazy. Could I offer help and subtly tolerate laziness? That would be the opposite of one of my goals for helping, for I’d like to ignite enthusiasm and kick off laziness.

The months of saving money was never easy. I had to walk many times, and deprive myself often of some foods. Worse is that my father was beginning to question why I was fast consuming my allowance. But I had to keep on asking him, for the sake of the girl. About the second week of March, I was only to save less than half of her total tuition fees, coming short of my promise.

I was ready to give her the money, but there were obstacles. It seemed very well that the girl wasn’t exerting enough effort. Three times I told her where she would be able to get the money, but all those times she didn’t come. The first one she never replied to my text messages; the second one she insisted her own place of choice; and the third one, which I supposed to be the ‘last chance’, still she insisted for her own choice.

She got really into my nerves. Many times, I refrained myself from texting her so I could not permanently withdraw my help. I couldn’t understand why she had so many excuses where all she had to do is get the money.

And one time she blamed me that she waited in her place of choice… Oh my dear, and many other words.

Well, maybe those words are enough to convince you that she doesn’t really deserve the money. Yes you’re right, by my judgement. But do I have to give her the money, though she is undeserving? Of course yes.

In her I remember my self in front of God: pitiful and nothing. In trying to extend my patience I realize again and again that my love is very far from the love of God He continuously extends to me: He always showers His blessings and forgiveness upon my soul, a very sinful soul who does the same sins over and over again.

Redundancy? Yes. Because I am a redundant sinner before God. Oh Lord, how could I have Your heart? Why is it that I am so slow to love and to forgive?

If I would like to imitate God’s love, then I will give her the money, undeserving that she is, out of pure heart, unconditionally.

Do I have the right to withdraw my help financially and the love that goes with it? No. Never even in the least sense.