Monday, August 28, 2017
The Greatest Gift
UV 2760/10000 The Greatest Gift
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
I Peter 1 v 22
We are justified when we believe that the sacrifice of Jesus bought salvation for us. Having been justified, we cannot rest on our new oars but row towards the shores of heaven through a process of sanctification or purification of our souls. We are sanctified by the Holy Spirit who washes us with the word of truth. Sanctification is a lifelong process. Justification and sanctification are the signs of our obedience of the first command of Jesus to love God with all our hearts and minds. While being sanctified, we are to obey the second commandment which is to love our fellow humans with “unfeigned love” or sincere and fervent love.
Scripture holds out two standards of love: We are to love others as we love ourselves as well as we are to love others even as Jesus loves us. When we love others as we love ourselves, we would not want to harm them or hurt them in any way. Hidden in this command is the truth that we love ourselves. Enlightened self love is not wrong. It is seeking the best for one self. Only when we love ourselves truly can we love others. When we love others as Jesus loves us, we will love unconditionally, we will love without minding the cost or sacrifice or suffering we have to undergo. We will desire the greatest good to happen to others. We will not envy them. We will forgive as Jesus forgives. We will not hold grudges but forgive freely. As we forgive freely, we will not be bitter and resentful. We will not be proud or self righteous, knowing that we are able to love only as Jesus loved us. All the commandments given through Moses are subsumed or fulfilled in obeying the two commands of Jesus. For if we love our fellow humans and fellow believers, we will not lie to them, or steal from them or covet what belongs to them or kill anyone. Fervent love also means not only not doing things that will harm our neighbours but also to do things that will help our fellow beings, alleviate their suffering, bless their lives, bring hope, meaning and the grace of God into their lives.
St Paul elevates love as the greatest of spiritual gifts. We need to reach out to others with a pure and loving heart. A pure heart means that our motives are not selfish or mixed with untruth or insincerity. We love and honour people as they are the very image of God even as we are. Our love is reflected in our words or conversation. It should uplift others and not cast them down.
Prateep V Philip