A Cluttered Mind

“Make room in your hearts for us.” -2 Corinthians 7:2 (ESV)

My desk is the epitome of clutter. If it is messy on normal days, it looks three times as worse on days when I have to write papers and exams. With open books scattered everywhere and pages of articles jutting out from every possible nook and corner, it is as if a tornado tore right through my desk and left devastation in its wake. Sometimes I do not realize it myself, and it is only when I come to find a place to set my plate and eat before I work again that I realize how messy my desk really is. As I sift through the sea of books and papers to make room, I find other things which I do not need and set them aside so that I may focus on what is really important; eating in order to gain the nourishment and strength to press on and do well.

We live in an age where busyness is almost a virtue. While we must all strive for diligence in whatever we do, too often we become engrossed in our work and make ourselves busy for the sake of being busy. When we do this however, our minds become terribly cluttered and stress begins to take sway; tainting our interactions with others. It can come to a point where we become so absorbed with ourselves and what we need to get done that we lose sight of God and the people around us. Relationships are strained not only by the harmful things we say, but also when we are not with the people we love both in presence and in our hearts. To have our priorities skewed by a false diligence is to deprive ourselves of joy and to submit ourselves to a slavery that will only serve to destroy us piece by piece. It is only when we have made room in our hearts for Christ and have made keeping in step with Him our top priority that we will find a lasting peace and joy which will never be taken away. As we allow Him to order our lives, He will expose what does not need to be there in our hearts and attitudes so that room will be made for His love. When this happens we will make room for others so that through His love Christ may reveal Himself and restore those who are broken and in need of His restorative work.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Love is a Language

“Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” -1 Thessalonians 4:9 (NIV)

Learning a new language can be notoriously difficult. There are two languages in which I am actively working towards achieving fluency, Hindi and Japanese. But as with any other foreign language, both these languages present challenges that must be overcome. One must get used to different sounds, learn a whole new set of vocabulary and idioms, and be able to correctly apply grammatical rules that can be vastly different from those of one’s native tongue. Yet those who have achieved fluency in another language testify to their discipline and humility as students. It takes that constant commitment to learn from textbooks, teachers, and native speakers in order to come to a point where one will be able to think, speak, and write in the language of their study.

Loving others is like a foreign language to our fallen nature. Since all of us have been corrupted by sin, it is hard for us to be fluent in love. Despite our best efforts to speak and show love to others, invariably we fall back on the language of our sinful nature which is pride and selfishness. Love is not something that comes to us naturally because sin has hindered our capacity to love with no conditions or limitations. Only Christ, who is love and perfect in His love, can teach us how to love each other as He has loved us. When we allow His Spirit to reside within us, He will train us in His love so that we may be able to speak life into others. But this can only happen when we have submitted ourselves wholly to His Spirit and with humility make that choice to surrender our attitudes to Him so that He may carry out His work in our lives. As we continue to keep in step with His Spirit and allow Him to teach us how to love, we will lose our fluency in sin and become conversant in His love and righteousness so that others will be drawn to Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Refreshing to Others

“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” –Philemon 1:7 (ESV)

Coconut water is very refreshing. It is sold in many tropical countries and is often drunk straight from the coconut itself. When I was travelling in India we once had to climb up a hill to visit a new school that was being built. Even though it was late December it was still quite hot and I could feel the sweat sticking to my back as we climbed. At the summit of the hill there was a family selling coconut water and we bought some to satisfy our thirst. As I felt the coconut water poured down my throat I felt rejuvenated and my exhaustion disappeared. Standing there drinking coconut water after a day of travelling made the lush surroundings of the summit, with the setting sun spreading its colors against the sky, look all the more beautiful.

Philemon was like coconut water for not only Paul, but for all he came into contact with. It seemed that many would agree with Paul’s description of Philemon and considering how Paul was relentlessly persecuted, it is not surprising that he would write that Philemon’s love was a joy and comfort to him. What about us? Would we be able to claim that our love and the attitudes which flow from within us are refreshing for others? The truth of the world is that it is weary. It groans under the weight of sin and injustice. It mourns over the consequences of wrong choices. Are our attitudes doing anything towards the healing and restoration of the world? Or are they only exacerbating the problem? If sin has control over our hearts, then we are unable to be refreshing and act in perfect love no matter our most earnest of efforts. It is only when we have allowed Christ to enter our hearts that He will make His love shine forth from within us. As His Spirit continues to work out His love in our lives, He will make us refreshing to others so that they may come and drink of the living water which Christ offers; finding an eternal hope and joy which will never be taken away.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.