2017 has come and gone and we are now facing another year ahead of us, a year that is hopefully better than what we had. I shouldn’t complain. God has been faithful. He has given me much more than what I think I deserve and has granted me even more than what my prayers contain.
Sometimes I fear that He wouldn’t bother asking anything in return for the gifts He continually shower on us until we eventually deem it necessary to offer something back. Don’t get me wrong. I know that we could never equal His blessings and I am sure He is not expecting to be paid back. It pleases Him to give us good gifts and He has placed no ceiling on what He is willing to give us.
That’s where the problem lies. We are, after all, made in His image and likeness and it is in our nature to want to give good gifts to someone we love, that is, give good gifts to Him, our God. I personally want to give Him an offering but I know that not all gifts are acceptable to Him.
But what does actually pleases Him?
1 Corinthians 13 teaches us what.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.
I am never good at giving expensive gifts, that is unless it comes from my heart and I know it is what the person really wanted…then money is no object. Receiving gifts I am the same. It doesn’t matter how expensive it was, if it wasn’t what I wanted and I knew it was given off-handedly, then its price wouldn’t matter at all.
2018 is here and I pray that I am better than who I was in 2017 who merely received gifts and waited on things I feel I deserve to come my way.
But am I capable of living a life expressed by 1 Corinthians 13?
Honestly? I’m afraid I am not. I know that I don’t have the mettle to be kind, patient and humble. Sometimes it is easier, not to say more pleasurable, to give in to anger. More often than not rudeness is more acceptable and effective in dealing with people who gets in your way especially those who use that very same language. “Surely,” I rationalize, “it is the only thing they would understand.”
But the existence of this one person condemns me. “It is possible to give love and not expect anything in return,” this person’s life says. I look at her and I wonder how it is possible to be so untouched by life’s cruelties. She’s been diagnosed with cancer and she fought it alone, not demanding anything from the very people she’s been helping, unwilling to disrupt their lives even when she suffered with the sickness. She’s single, left the boyfriend who she knew the Lord didn’t want for her, and yet she continues to help and shower with gifts her siblings and their children. I never hear her complain even when the house she built for herself is somehow taken over by a sibling’s family. No hate came to her lips even when a parent went wayward. Vacation time she takes her whole family and their family with her wherever she goes, whether Boracay, Palawan or Hong Kong. Sometimes she even includes us in her plans even though we’ve declined many times than I can remember. She has remained sweet and amiable even when life has not been good to her. She persists to be unfazed and undaunted, unmoved by life’s pressures—and, I am sure, God is pleased with her life.
She is a Christian like I am but she seemed more powerful just because she knows how to love unconditionally. One thought endures; unconditional love is more powerful than prophecies or any kind of miracle.
Then that would be my fervent prayer this 2018, to be like her, this person who stares at storms courageously, and live a life that is pleasing to God.