Good morning. Today I have been given the subject – charity the pure love of Christ – to speak on. Let me share a well known scripture to begin with;
‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.
Beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faitheth…’ (1 Corinthians 12:4-8)
I would like you to imagine for a moment that you are a girl guide or a boy scout. You can chose which one you would like to be, it is up to you no judgement will be made on your choice. Within these organisations children are able to work towards and gain a badge, a merit badge, in a particular area. Now if you were called home today to your Heavenly Father’s kingdom and if he were to ask you ‘what did you do in this life to gain your merit badge in charity?’ What would you answer? Now keep that thought in your mind and let me share a few things with you –
Several years ago a film called Pay it Forward was released. I first watched it shortly after it’s released but have had the chance to watch it again recently. Let me set the scene of the film for you a little. It is set in the US. It is the beginning of the term and a group of 11 year olds meet their social studies teacher for the first time. The teacher sets them a assignment that will last them the whole school year – What can you do to change the world for the better?’ Some children are dumbfounded and some reply ‘nothing, I am only a child,’ but one child remains quiet but begins to think and he comes up with the following plan. ‘Do 1 big thing for 3 separate people, Then get those people to do 1 thing for three other people, making to total 9, and then get the 9 people to do 1 thing for 3 people making it 27 and so on, the numbers get very large very quickly. Is his plan a success? If you haven’t watched the film then do so, if you have then you already know the answer.
I can see your minds muttering to themselves, ‘but it’s only a film and anything can happen in a film, it’s not real life.’
So let me share something else –
Recently I had the privilege to read and then write a review for a new book out, titled ‘Nurturing Healing Love’ by Scarlett Lewis. The book is about her son Jesse Lewis, who at the age of 6 died protecting his friends and trying to protect his teacher. On the 14th December 2012 a mentally unstable young man walked into his school, Sandy Nook and opened fire. The story is told of Jesse, that has the young man came into his classroom the gun jammed and instead of Jesse running to save himself he stood in front of his teacher and told his class mates to run. In doing so he saved several of his friends and became a hero.
I hope and pray that none of us are ever faced with such a situation.
Let us turn now to the scriptures, to stories that we think we know well, but do we?
‘And when he (meaning Jesus Christ) was gone forth into the way, there came one running, kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may have eternal life?
And Jesus said unto him, why callest me thou good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and they mother.
And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross and follow me.’
‘And he looked up and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury (want) hath cast in all the living that she had.’
If you are of the mind that these scriptures are about money and how little or how much you have or how much you would need to pay then you are mistaken, for they are of something far greater than that. Our Heavenly Father knows what it is that we have need of and will provide it in his own way. He also knows that if all we have to offer is two mites and we offer them with a sincere heart then we have offered all. The rich man asked Jesus Christ what he could give to gain eternal life, but when faced with giving away all that he owned he was unable to comply. Most of us will never be asked to give all, but to give part, which is sufficient.
It is not up to me to say what it is that would give you your merit badge in charity. It is not up to the person sat next to you for only you and your Heavenly Father know your heart. We are told that charity is a pure love, when we begin to give our all or even when we are forced to give our all do we begin to realise what pure love really is. Jesus Christ’s first miracle was not to heal the sick or to raise the dead, it was turning water into wine. We are told in the scriptures that it is better that we humble ourselves than to be humbled because in our wants and needs. What we are asked to do may be small and seem insignificant but to someone else it may mean everything.
What acts of service does God want from us? What miracle does God want us to perform? What purpose has God given each of us in this world? Will we be ready to meet God and be given our merit badge in charity the pure love of Christ or will we be dumbfounded.
In closing let me turn back to the scriptures –
1 Corinthians 13:9-13
‘For we know in part, and we prophesy in part
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man (or a woman), I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.’
I bear testimony that Jesus Christ lives that he is the son of a Heavenly Father that loves us and wants the best for us, but only us, ourselves, can decide how we are going to earn our merit badge in charity. I know that in serving we will be blessed and for most of us we will never be expected to give all we have, even our life but to give part. Remember always charity suffereth long and is kind, always kind.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.