Love Believes The Best

Edward Bulwer-Lytton once wrote that “The pen is mightier than the sword.”  After listening to our pastor speak yesterday morning, I found that one thing a hundred times mightier than the pen or sword combined: the mind. The destiny of a man lies in the course of his actions; his actions are bred by the thoughts spurred on by his mind. In other words, the way we think matters. It matters not only because it affects our behavior, but more importantly, our thought life affects our relationships with the people around us.

In Godly wisdom and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Peter preached yesterday morning:

“To fall in love is nothing; it’s easy, shallow. But to stay in love for a long time–that is another story….It’s hard; it takes more effort and discipline.”

Fairy tales have mastered the art of concealing this basic principle, the commitment to stay in love. One applicable and practical way of staying in love is by believing in the best in people. Love believes the best.

“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7 NASB

I found this message comforting and at the same time rebuking mainly for 3 reasons:

  1. I realized that I have been subjecting my thought life to wrong masters, namely Vain Imagination (including those daydreams such as when my crush talks to me one-on-one and hugs me from behind :|), the Worst is Yet To Come and Miss Pity.
  2. God believes in me–He sees the best that would come in time as I grow in Him. He will never, ever give up on me or YOU. 🙂
  3. People can change. In God’s vocabulary, you won’t find incorrigible (unless the person’s dead). There is hope for every person no matter how utterly terrible his past, how numerous and grave his mistakes and how late he was in life to realize his need of a Savior.

“You cannot be lazy in the way you think,” Pastor Peter exhorted. “Every Christian is responsible for the way he thinks.” When I heard this, my soul twitched and my heart jumped as if a needle pricked it for a millisecond. I recalled the instances in my life where I concocted a vain thought, warranted it search my soul and allowed it to govern my actions. The consequences were destructive–at least for me. I lost, to some extent but not completely, in the sea of awkwardness, a friend. I developed this nasty habit of avoiding people because I allowed my vain (and stupid) imaginations to determine my perspective and govern my actions. By God’s grace and with the hope I have in Jesus Christ, I’m coping from a mild deluge. 🙂

So how does one believe the best in people? To avoid confusion, Pastor Peter differentiated believing and trusting people from being gullible. Trusting people is accepting what they tell us regardless of the truth value and leaving the judgement to God. After all, judging is not our role. Being gullible on the other hand is to believe what people say and live by them instead of living securely in what God says is true. Believing in the best is giving people the benefit of the doubt; being gullible is doubting the benefit by allowing doubt to cloud your thinking. Believing in the best is not raising your voice or replying in all caps when your friend does not respond to your messages or calls; being gullible is ignoring the truth so that you let your friend keep on doing what she/he does without you asking her/him gently or helping her/him fix with a problem. Difficult, huh? I realized that differentiating between trusting and being gullible requires the exclusive wisdom available only to God’s kids. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading, a person can still fail to hope and believe in the best (especially if he has all the reasons not to).

This morning God reinforced this message to me. 😉 Thanks, Father. Another Godly and wise man, Tom Holladay, wrote a book entitled The Relationship Principles of Jesus. I highly recommend this book if you desire to grow deeper and deeper in your relationships. The principles are life-changing, applicable, simple (though not easy to do), tested proven and reliable. Anyway, there’s a part of the book which I heard God tell me. Don’t ask me how I heard it, but this I tell you and it is true: When God speaks, He makes sure the hearer hears Him loud and clear. When I read this passage I felt my heart pricked with needles, that twitch:

“You may be right on the edge of quitting in a relationship…..I’ll face this with you. I believe in you. I’ll look forward to the future with you. Even when every bone in my body wants to run and hide, we’re bound together. I will stay with you and we’ll overcome together.”

Although that passage was directed to Christians and their relationships with the people around them, it was first directed to the Christian from God. For the past few days, I have been feeling lax in my walk with God because I allowed my mistakes to define me. Don’t allow your mistakes to define you! You are who God says you are. When God sees us, He does not look at our sins; He sees what we can become. 🙂 God is a Judge, but He does not condemn us. This is precisely why we should not judge others; a sinner cannot judge another sinner.

If ever you feel like giving up on life or a relationship, do not despair! Believe in the best. Jesus said,

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 NASB

Tom Holladay wrote, “I was taught to trust God instead of myself for forgiveness. God has plenty of good things He wants us to do, but these good deeds are a response to His grace and not a way to earn His grace.”

God believes in you and me. He is at work in our lives. He told me not to focus on myself and to focus on Him so that I won’t lose hope. He tells you the same thing. 🙂 Hold his hand; give Him your mind so that your actions won’t go wayward. Give people the benefit of the doubt and leave the judgement to God.  God bless you!

Love? God? I don’t get it. I would love to tell you more about establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ here.

PS: Watch this music video! May Josh Wilson’s track entitled Before The Morning encourage you today. 🙂

SOURCES

Holladay, Tom. The Relationship Principles of Jesus. Singapore: Campus

Crusade Asia Ltd., 2009.

Tan-chi, Peter. “Love Believes the Best.” 40 Days of Love Series – Sunday

Worship Service. Christ’s Commission Fellowship, Ortigas Center, Pasig

City. 3 April 2011.

The New American Standard Bible. Ed. BibleGateway.com

(www.biblegateway.com). 1995.

Confessions Of A Glutton In Denial

Just like Goldilocks, I’ve had enough of porridge. Time to walk out in the woods. © Life.com

I have a confession to make: I am a glutton. Yeah, you heard that right. According to my colleague Dictionary, I eat and drink (but more of eat) excessively and voraciously. When you see me, I bet you’re going to say what everyone tells me when I tell them of my bulges: “You’re NOT FAT!” Okay, maybe I’m not (but I did gain 10 pounds last year! @_@). I’m not saying I’m fat; I’m saying that my love for food has taken a wrong turn–I gradually idolized food. In other words, I loved food more than I loved God.

At about this time last year, I was a health chick–disciplined and in perfect shape. I faithfully and accurately monitored every single calorie-filled bite that entered my mouth and utilized the energy it gave me through exercise. Actually, all my other habits were in line–studying, sleeping, meditating and writing. Discipline was my middle name. My planner dictated my actions and not the other way around. I was the adamant member of the family who rejected the white bread served at breakfast on a Saturday after I consumed all the wheat bread during school days. Even while watching TV when I’m supposed to relax, I lifted weights and performed a hundred or more crunches. For about five months I sustained this healthy, disciplined and self-controlled lifestyle (with God’s help, of course). Actually, all the power I had to fulfill these “hard things” came from God. I read and meditated on verses everyday and would even skip some TV shows just to have my quiet time with Him.

Then college came. As much as I would like to blame college per se for my degradation, I wouldn’t and couldn’t because I’m sick of playing the blame game. It’s my fault. I failed. I let my guard down. I thought I can easily say “NO” to the second temptation of buying that delicious, chocolate-filled bread from a favorite bakery of mine in Shang (a mall near my school) after trying it once. (NOTE: I am not against eating so-called “unhealthy” foods, but I do believe that I should limit my intake of such meals because they contain ingredients that may prove detrimental to my health in the long run) Some thoughts are just plain wrong and should be thrown out of the window. I found myself indulging in the delicious pastries almost every week. Soon, my other habits followed suit. I slept late, missed out on daily quiet times, watched more TV and movie premieres, exercised less and ditched writing. It was a slow, painful (emotionally, spiritually and even physically) and devastating ride downhill. Not a good picture. Far from my dream destination of toned muscles, a flat, chiseled stomach, fair skin tone under my eyes (not black) and DISCIPLINE.

Over the past few months, I’ve cried a lot over this issue of mine. Usually I asked forgiveness from my Father, vowed to never overeat and not exercise again, then perform the whole cycle all over again. Again and again I sin and gain more weight, baggage and awful consequences. I realized that I’ve been dwelling cozily in the place I thought I escaped: my comfort zone. All along I thought I was already stepping outside my comfort zone by loving others when I didn’t feel like it or holding my temper when I wanted to shout at people. Of course they were all done outside my comfort zones; but once I finished them and saw the chocolate cookies smirking at me from the table, I stepped back in the zone. (I became so intimate with food I imagined them performing human actions. Weird.)

This morning, God spoke to me through these verses:

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Since I did not have much time to write my thoughts on paper, I just memorized them.  I did not realize until now (well actually fifteen minutes ago) that God was telling me to GET OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE THIS INSTANT! The thing about God is that He does not like working in comfort zones. These places limit the dreams and visions He has for His kids. Comfort zones produce the world’s greatest losers. Where does God work then? Ever heard of a battlefield? He wants His authentic children-slash-warriors to bear arms, fill themselves with His Spirit and fight with His power, grace and love. The reason people lose their battles is that they fight them unarmed and unauthorized by the General i.e., Christ. I’m actually speaking to myself here and slapping my cheeks hard. Okay the last clause, not really. As the verses above said, whoever does not produce good fruit will be cut down and incinerated. I don’t find burning very appealing, do you?

I already asked God for forgiveness–for the nth time–but this time, I have to partner it with action. True repentance is evidenced by actions spurned out of love. As our senior pastor, Peter Tan-chi, said at the afternoon service last Sunday,

“If you really love Jesus, you would not have a hard time obeying Him.”

Amen.

Please do pray for me. The battle rages. The enemy shudders at my sudden dependence on God and resolution to combat his attacks with God’s Spirit, power and Sword (the Bible), but resolutions have to be backed up by correct A-C-T-I-O-N-S.

I want to end with this song by Toby Mac entitled “Get Back Up.”

I may be knocked down, but not out forever!