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Faith: Finishing well

This brief season we call summer is a wonderful time to enjoy nature and connect with family and friends, but don’t neglect your soul.

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Isn’t it interesting to observe the brevity of the news cycle?

Today’s hottest headlines fade in days if not hours. Each time we hear of another tragedy we find it compared to others, whether it’s the magnitude of destruction or number of lives lost.

It almost feels like a competition, like striving for the high score on a video game.

Perhaps to some, life is but a game. But for those who serve Christ, our goal, our end-game is his kingdom.

But just as hard work produces calluses on your hands, the daily cares of life have the potential to create a callousness of the soul. The Bible contains a wonderful antidote for this malady in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

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This text is often cited at weddings but its application is much broader than this festive occasion. In verse 4 we find two positive attributes followed by what might be termed the unholy triad.

It reads: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."

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Like mercy and grace, true love requires both patience and kindness - withholding the punishment that is justified and the expression of care that is unmerited.

But the negative traits of jealousy, haughtiness and arrogance are destructive in every relationship.

Roughly a decade ago I began wearing eyeglasses. While some require corrective lens from childhood, mine were the result of the aging process. My eyes no longer had the elasticity needed to adjust to the finer details of life.

Did you know our souls are vulnerable to the same demise? Envy, boasting and pride are cancers of the heart.

Paul addresses each of them in this text. He begins with envy. The basic meaning of the Greek word is to have warmth of feeling for or against. The most common translations are envy and jealousy.

We can certainly understand the negative implications, but there’s a more subtle application also. Agápē love is not moved by feelings; it’s guided by a determination.

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Agápē love seeks the welfare of the other.

Then Paul moves to the issue of boasting. The Greek word describes one who is fixated on drawing attention to themselves – becoming the center of attention. Love does not boast or brag.

Boasting typically leaks from loose lips, yet the disease is rooted deep in the heart. "For every tree is known by its own fruit … For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:44-45 NKJV

Paul concludes with the attribute of pride. The Greek word here is physio. It’s the root from which we get the word for a body builder flexing his muscles. He is puffed up, sticking out his chest, inflating his physique for maximum impression.

Arrogance always involves comparison; like a wild animal standing on their hind legs to dominate their prey.

Isn’t it interesting that Paul chooses to warn of these traits immediately after his dissertation on spiritual gifts? Could it be that there is an increased risk as we grow in maturity and ministry responsibility?

Where is your heart today? Are the cares of this life producing hardness or hunger?

This brief season we call summer is a wonderful time to enjoy nature and connect with family and friends, but don’t neglect your soul.

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Take a break from the temporal to renew your connection with your first love. Let’s finish well!

Tim Walker is pastor at New Life Community Church in Pine River.

Related Topics: FAITHFAITH COLUMN
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