8th August 2013

Let’s Be Charitable 

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not…is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil…rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
I Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV) 

When we were young, my sisters and I sometimes managed to get hold of the newspaper before our parents read it. Not that we wanted to read the news; we were more interested in japery than politics, and we needed regular material to exercise our skills. 

It would have been boring to take a thick felt-tip pen to draw specs, frown lines and beards on the various politicians in the papers. Much more effective to do it insidiously, deepening and extending facial lines and shadows already present, working in harmony with the pixels of the printing, suggesting an unshaven appearance rather than superimposing full-blown facial hair. Successful distortion is not a crude overdrawing, but a work of art. 

When we make observations about others, are we likely to subtly exaggerate an existing weakness or flaw that we think we have perceived?  Many people, churchgoers or not, would never dream of telling a straightforward lie about anything or anyone. “Let’s be charitable,” they may say when discussing someone’s faults/accomplishments/finances/life decisions. Does that mean validating the subject’s worth and genuinely wishing the best for them, holding full agreement with the value God places upon that person? Or does it mean ostensibly showing a vague positivity whilst gradually deepening lines of reported conversation, softly highlighting character flaws and subtly drawing selective comparisons between one person’s life and the life of another? 

Godly conversation, of course, does not mean flattering and ingratiating everyone, agreeing with everything, always being ‘happy’ and never confronting problems. That would be Ned Flanders*, not Jesus. In fact Jesus missed by a mile our accepted standard of inoffensive blandness (Matthew 23; 15:12, Mark 8:33, Luke 19:46). 

How do you steer a safe course between airbrushing and uglification? “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), falls trippingly off the tongue but takes real discernment to practise. The “love chapter”, I Corinthians 13, introduces love as “a more excellent way” than the whole catalogue of spectacular spiritual gifts. It concludes by listing faith and hope as standing strong together with Christian love—unsurprisingly, because this detailed description of Christian charity depends on belief in salvation despite all human failings and frustrations. It stands upon the basis of God’s value for each person, and is in fact in concurrence with God’s love for them. 

Prayer
Father in Heaven, you know us fully, and love us; lead us to know you, and to love one another because of you. In Jesus’ name.
Amen
 

Study by Fiona Jones 

* Ned Flanders: a chirpily sanctimonious neighbour to the Simpsons in the eponymous TV cartoon series. 

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sep5About the Author:
Fiona Jones attends the Worldwide Church of God UK in Perth/Fife where she assists her husband in his pastoral role there. Fiona is presently serving as volunteer staff at our SEP Summer Youth Camp on the banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland where over 100 teens are enjoying activities such as sailing, football, leatherwork and Christian Living.  Her husband, Rob is also on staff and her two sons are in ‘mini-camo’. The camp is entirely staffed by volunteers who care about youth and help them to see Christianity in action for two weeks each summer.  Have a look at the website www.sepuk.org.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Perth
Combination of house churches and monthly outreach service and lunch
Gillespie Centre, Dunfermline, monthly
House churches on other Saturdays
Meeting Time:
11am Saturday,
Local Congregational Contact:
Rob Jones
Phone:  01383-737456
Mobile:  07789-172394
Email:  rob.gus.jones@gmail.com

 

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