Reflections – 2012.06

Some Clarity on Charity –  June 2012
I am reading a book by Hugh Binning entitled “Christian Love”. Binning was a pastor for three years (1650-1653). He died at age 26. Binning’s thorough, helpful exposition of the Scripture’s teaching on Christian love is worth the read, even if at times the language may be a little difficult. In a world that provides us with a steady diet of books on “love”, it is a near miracle that I have come across the best one. But I have, and you can read it too.

Here is a taste of some of his thoughts. In your relationships, are you quick to find fault with others, and maybe not so quick to find fault with yourself? Binning says the following: “It is certainly love and indulgence to ourselves that makes us aggravate other men’s faults to such a height; self-love looks on other men’s failings through a multiplying or magnifying glass; but she puts her own faults behind her back … therefore she can suffer much in herself but nothing in others; and certainly much self-forbearance and indulgence can spare little for others. But charity is just contrary, she is most rigid on her own behalf, will not pardon herself easily; knows no revenge but what is spoken of (2 Cor. 7:11), self-revenge; and has no indignation but against herself. Thus she can spare much candour and forbearance for others, and has little or no indignation left behind to consume on others.” Consider his point in whatever conflict you are experiencing: Have you spent a lot of time considering and being angry at your own failings (and then reflecting on Christ’s love for you) that you have “little or no indignation left behind to consume on others?”

I am convinced that there are so many struggles in our relationships with one another that are the result of a lack of commitment to the ideals of Christian love. Just take a look at I Corinthians 13. Consider each aspect of love and apply it to your particular issue with someone else, whether spouse or parent or child … What does it mean that love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things? In what specific ways can I demonstrate patience, kindness, humility, etc… in this relationship and thus express love as a follower of Jesus?

None of this is easy. All of this requires our own hearts to be changed by the Spirit of God. This happens through prayer and a heart and mind and will that are turned towards Christ and His Word. Our “old man” natural bent will be towards selfishness. But in Christ, you have been given a new nature. May we as God’s people “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” For it is in our love for one another that the world will know that we belong to Jesus.