Love is a Verb (PoW#16)

Pearl of Wisdom #16

Love is a verb

You have no doubt heard this phrase before, but I think it is worth repeating.

A verb is an action word – it describes something we do. Love should be visible.

It is easy to say the words – “I love you,” but do our actions tell the same story? I can wish you well, hope that things work out OK for you, but if I do nothing to help, then I’ve not really loved you at all.

Being part of a church, I often hear of people praying for one another. If you believe in the power of prayer, then that’s a wonderful thing to do. Sometimes though I fear we are praying to God about things we could take care of ourselves.

If someone is without transport, we don’t need to pray for them, we need to give them a lift. If someone has a sick child or relative, we can provide a meal to give them one less thing to worry about. While doing our own shopping, we can pick up a few things for an elderly neighbour.

Love demands action – what is it demanding of you this week?

What are you aiming for? (PoW#15)

It’s better to strive for everything and get some of it, than to aim for nothing and get all of it.

I used to know someone who always said “It’s better to hope for nothing and then you can’t be disappointed.” While I can see where they were coming from, I always thought it was a sad way to live.

You are far better to aim for everything and get some of it, than to aim for nothing at all, and get every bit of it. Target the moon and you may miss, but there’s a good chance you’ll at least reach the skies.

What are you expecting? Do you go through life just waiting for the next thing to go wrong, or do you push on to reach the best in all things? I imagine the former way is much harder than the latter.

Aim as high as you can, and give it all you’ve got. I hope you achieve every bit of your God-given goals.

One Day’s Dream is Another Day’s… (PoW#14)

Pearl of Wisdom #14

What is now in the junkyard was once somebody’s lifelong dream.

Life is a funny thing, and is so often dictated by the drive to gain material possessions. It is not wrong to have things, and indeed we need many of them, but it ought to shock us to realise how much of our lives are driven by the pursuit of “stuff”.

It is even more humbling when we consider that whatever we gain in life – materially that is – cannot come with us. Whatever you believe about the afterlife, surely you will agree that none of these possessions we worked so hard to get can come with us.

Think about what you will one day leave behind. Your dream, whatever it was and no matter how long it took you to build, will ultimately age, breakdown or be thrown away.

Junkyards and rubbish dumps are full of things that were perhaps once someone lifelong dream.

I don’t say any of this to depress you! But I’ve learned that life is very short compared with eternity, and we only get one shot at it. Don’t waste your life working for something that will one day be trashed.

Work out what is really important and start building a lasting legacy.

We are all different (POW#13)

Pearl of Wisdom #13

Not everyone does things in the same way that you do

Don’t you just love it when someone says, “I wouldn’t have done it like that…” just AFTER you finish doing a task?

You often see it in a working environment; when one employee tries to explain something to another. It seems a simple and straightforward task to the person that knows, and they just can’t understand why it’s such a mystery to the one learning.

The truth is that we are all different. What I find easy, you may find hard; and vice versa. Likewise, you may need to explain something to me several times before I get it, but someone else may grasp it on the first attempt.

Is one better than the other? No – it’s just different.

We need to understand and consciously remember that not everyone is like us. It is extremely arrogant to look down on someone else who can’t do what we can. If you look hard enough, there will certainly be things they can do that you cannot.

We must stop judging one another, and learn to work with each other. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and God put us together so we can work together – not against each other.

Be patient with other people this week, as they will no doubt have to be patient with you!

Pearl of Wisdom #12

Beating yourself up is a symptom of pride.

In the past, when I made a mistake I would tend to beat myself up about it. The length and severity of my “self-beating” would depend on how serious I perceived the mistake to be.

And let’s call it what it is – not a mistake, but a sin. A falling short of God’s standards.

I’d think to myself, “How could I have done such a thing? I’m supposed to be a Christian! I’m better than that, and I shouldn’t be doing such things! I’m so unworthy. I just can’t do anything right!” And so on and so forth.

Read back what I used to say to myself again. How many times did I use the term “I” or something similar to it?

Answer: a lot.

How could I have done such a thing? Well, because I’m only human, I’m not perfect and I’m still on a journey with Jesus. As long as I live and breath, I’ll never be perfect in and of myself, only in Christ.

It is a symptom of pride. Believing we are above sin or simple mistakes indicates that we have a proud heart.

Often we think that beating ourselves up is a humble thing to do – far from it. In fact, it is suggestive that we don’t think Christ’s punishment was enough, and that we somehow need to add to it.

If you sin this week, don’t spend any time beating yourself up. It’s a waste of time. Just accept Christ’s work and forgiveness and move on.

Pearl of Wisdom #11

No one can give you a bad attitude, they can only give you an opportunity to get one.

Attitudes cannot be given as gifts – either good or bad. In truth, the only one who can control your attitude is you.

I heard a story about a guy on a lift (elevator for those outside the UK!). As he waited for his floor, another man got on with an umbrella. As he turned around, he began to jab the umbrella into the first man’s ribs – completely by accident. Commenting on it later, the first man said “That dude made me so mad!” A friend corrected him, “No, all he did was poke you with an umbrella. You got mad all by yourself.”

This is real wisdom.

No one has the power or right to change your attitude except you. All they can do is give you the opportunity.

You will likely face many opportunities to develop a bad attitude today. Rise above them if you can. Decide right now to maintain a good attitude no matter what life throws at you.

Pearl of Wisdom #10

We need desire, not discipline, to do the things of God

Most Christians would agree on some of the important things we ought to do as part of our faith. I’m thinking of things such as prayer, reading the Bible or sharing our faith with others. If these are indeed important, then do you feel you do them enough?

Most would probably say no.

We know that prayer and reading the Bible are important for building up our faith and our relationship with God. We know we ought to share our faith with those who haven’t yet heard about it, because no one else can do it. So what can we do?

Many would say we need discipline. We need to discipline ourselves to put down the mobile phone, or switch off the TV set, and do the things we know we should be doing.

We need desire however, not discipline.

While discipline has its place, if we really want to get things done, we need a desire to do them. Discipline only goes so far, but ultimately we do the things we want to do.

Ask God to grow your desire to pray, to read the Word and to share your faith with others. When you have the desire, you won’t need the discipline.

Pearl of Wisdom #9

We judge others by their behaviour, but ourselves by our intent.

It is interesting how we often treat ourselves one way, and others another. There are many areas where this is true, but consider behaviour versus intent.

As we encounter someone in life, we judge them by what they say and do. That’s not wrong necessarily, and by judge, I don’t mean look on them critically but rather just understanding them.

We cannot always determine their intent, but can see what their behaviour is like.

Sadly, we don’t assess ourselves in the same way. We consider our intentions and not our behaviour. When something goes wrong, we say things like “I never meant that to happen,” or “I didn’t mean to cause offense.” But we rarely extend the same grace to others.

If someone has hurt or offended you today, consider their intentions. Did they mean to do it, or were there reasons why it might have happened? It doesn’t diminish your hurt of course, but give them the benefit of the doubt.

Mostly intentions are good, even if behaviour doesn’t line up with it. You give yourself a break, so do the same for others.

Pearl of Wisdom #8

Wisdom means making decisions today that you will be happy with tomorrow.

There are a number of definitions of wisdom I suppose, but I happen to like this one!

How often do we make choices one day, that we regret the next? Ultimately life is a series of choices and we must make ones that will benefit us, not harm us. It’s not always clear which is the right choice, so we must consider God’s will and about which choice is best not just for the here and now, but for the future also.

Take a simple example such as healthy eating. Perhaps you are someone who wants to lose weight, and even if not, you can still understand the point here. Do you eat the doughnut, or do you take the apple? In the moment, the doughnut may seem the most tempting, but consider not just how you feel now, but how you will feel later when standing on the scales or trying on new clothes.

Similarly, when making a purchase, it may be tempting right now, but will the monthly payments for the next four years really be what you want to do with your money?

Wisdom means choosing not what you want right now, but what will be best in the future. Make decisions today that you will be happy with tomorrow.

Pearl of Wisdom #7

Love is not just an emotion; it’s a choice.

Hollywood has fooled so many young people (and not so young) into believing that true love is like a bolt from the blue. You gaze at someone from across the room and heart rate quickening, realise this is the “one” you’ve been waiting for…

I’m not unromantic, and very much believe that a loving relationship must have emotional elements. God did not make us to be robots who feel nothing, quite the contrary, we are people with strong emotions and passions.

When it comes to love however, and I mean any kind of love, not just the romantic kind, we cannot just wait until we “feel” it. While love is an emotion, it is primarily a choice.

So many relationships fade after a time, the couples saying they just don’t “feel love” for the other anymore. Emotions can fade away, and when they do, we had better ensure we have something more to rest on.

Perhaps you don’t feel like loving anyone today. Maybe you had a bad night, or worse a bad run in life recently. For whatever reason, you can always find an excuse not to act in a loving way.

Make the choice today to go beyond your feelings and choose love. Choose to be kind. Choose to encourage. Choose to be there for someone, irrespective of what your emotions are doing.

When we make the choice to love, our emotions will follow suit.

Pearl of Wisdom #6

You can give without loving, but cannot love without giving.

The other day in London, I saw a homeless person asking for spare change in the train station. Many commuters walked by without even looking up, but a few dropped some small change into the person’s hand.

Of those who passed by, and even of those who gave, very few made eye contact and not one stopped to talk to them. Sometimes we can feel that we’ve done our part by putting some coins into a charity box or collection plate, and while i’m in no way suggesting giving isn’t a good thing, it isn’t always loving.

We can give small change like this, or even large sums, without actually loving people. But we cannot love someone – really love them – without giving them something important.

It may not be money of course, and might in fact be something as simple as our attention or time. We cannot love, without giving something of ourselves.

Like anything, giving can be done without love. When we love people as Jesus loved, we always give them something of value or of benefit to them.

Love someone today – give them your attention, encouragement, support, prayers or anything else they may need. You can make a positive impact on their day with something that costs you nothing.

Pearl of Wisdom #5

If you know how to worry, then you also know how to meditate.

The word “meditation” can conjure up a mixture of images in our minds these days. For many, it refers to something like Buddist meditation, or some other form of this “spiritual” or “religious” practice.

For the Christian however, meditation means something quite different. Instead of focussing on ourselves, we focus on God and His Word. Meditation simply means to chew over or mull the meaning of a particular Scripture – the idea being to get every bit of goodness we can from it. It also enables the Word to get rooted deep down inside of us.

If you know how to worry, then you know how to meditate. Worrying is just negative meditation. Rolling a problem around your mind over and over. But instead of focussing on the problem, why not focus on something positive? Take a relevant Scripture and mull it over all day long. Just see what benefits you get from it. If nothing else, your mind will be on something useful.

Don’t worry, meditate!