How Should I Live: Love in an Unloving Atmosphere
Today people are angry, short tempered, and hostile to those who disagree with them... As we ponder how we should live as Christians, how can we be loving in this atmosphere and not be just like the world?
Having shown the nature and tendency of charity or Christian love, in respect to our receiving injury, and doing good to others — that it "suffers long and is kind;" and also with respect to the good possessed by others as compared with that possessed by ourselves — that charity "envieth not;" the apostle now proceeds to show, that in reference to what we ourselves may be or have, charity is not proud — that "it vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly." As, on the one hand, it prevents us from envying others what they possess, so, on the other, it keeps us from glorying in what we possess ourselves. Paul had just declared that charity was contrary to a spirit of envy, and now he declares that it is equally contrary to that spirit which specially provokes men to envy others, and which they often make a pretense or apology for envying them, viz. that they are puffed up with their honors and prosperity, and vaunt themselves on their possession of these things. When men have obtained prosperity, or are advanced, and others observe that they are puffed up and vaunt themselves in it, this tends to provoke envy, and make others uneasy at the sight of their prosperity. But if a man has prosperity or advancement, and yet does not vaunt himself or behave in an unseemly manner on account of it, this tends to reconcile others to his high circumstances, and make them satisfied that he should enjoy his elevation. As already observed, when men envy another, they are prone to excuse and justify themselves in so doing, by the pretense that he does not make a good improvement of his prosperity, but is proud of it, and puffed up on account of it. But the apostle shows how Christian love, or charity, tends to make all behave suitably to their condition, whatever it may be: if below others, not to envy them, and if above others, not to be proud or puffed up with the prosperity. Jonathan Edwards The Spirit Of Charity Is An Humble Spirit
But so soon as he had transgressed against God, these noble principles were immediately lost, and all this excellent enlargedness of man's soul was gone; and thenceforward, he himself shrank, as it were, into a little space, circumscribed and closely shut up within itself to the exclusion of all things else. Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness: and God was forsaken, and fellow creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being, took wings and flew away. Jonathan Edwards The Spirit Of Charity Is An Humble Spirit
Sermon discussion topics for parents to use with their children:
What in our culture causes us to be angry, irritated, short fused?
What are some of the ways love is described in the passage?
How can we be like this to everyone?
Why is love so important?
How does this teaching cause us to seek God more fervently?