I missed something. I read over it many times, but in reality, I didn’t grasp it. Suddenly, it has come back to confront me once more. You see, some years back, many of us were involved in working to see a full apostolic restoration to the church. With all the gifts, all the ministries intact; just as it was set up by the apostles and prophets of the early church. Our entire fellowship was encouraged to seek for this and be a part of it.
Just as the apostle wrote, we were to study, fast and pray, and to seek spiritual gifts. And many of us went after it, with everything we had. We obtained marvelous spiritual levels in all of this; the gifts of the Spirit were encouraged and they actually began to work. Many of us learned things from the Spirit, that we had never known or possessed before. It took humility, to obtain these things. Let’s not talk about what happened after that; let us concentrate on what the Spirit wishes to teach us now. And He will, if we seek Him.
Somehow, those ministering to us about these things, in their real desire and eagerness, perhaps failed to stress the first step. Now, I know this; that you have to follow after charity first, before you can desire these gifts that God has placed in the body of Christ.
We were all exercising in these things; they were taught in many conferences, revivals and camp-meetings. In our zeal, we may have made some mistakes; not truly knowing what this word charity even means. We’ve been told it means love. There is much more to this word than that. The word “love” was used in many passages in the New Testament. So, why was this particular word chosen here?
I found this in an old Cruden’s Concordance. Charity:- is a principle of prevailing love to God, and good will to men, which effectually inclines one endued with it to glorify God, and to do good to others; to be patient, slow to anger, and ready to put up with wrongs; to show kindness to all, and seek the good of others, though with prejudice, to ourselves. A person endued therewith does not interpret doubtful things to the worst sense, but the best; is sorry for the sins of others, but rejoices when one does well and is apt to bear with their failings and infirmities. And there’s more.
Men and women of God, this is what is missing today. This is not the only place the apostles told us to show charity toward one another; in the way we treat each other. The text in scripture says the same thing; but we often pass over it.
In truth, this does not sound like the way we love; there is much more action here. I see it in the way some messages are presented; still too harsh, almost threatening people. You can’t be puffed up, wanting to put yourself out front to be seen and heard; not preferring others before self.
Our simple definition of love, does not love as He loved. We need to go out of our way to help people; and actually tolerate those who are weaker.
Our elder men and women here, can attest that we started out with charity; it was not a shallow connection that says, you tend to your business, and I’ll tend to mine.
We sold a lot of dinners, and donuts, and peanut brittle and brought poundings out of our own cabinets to help build some of the fine churches so many are proud of today. Charity, has woven into it, many of the fruit of the Spirit; gentleness, goodness, peace, meekness and longsuffering.
We have to follow after it. It’s the only place to start.
~ Robert Blackburn