Monday, November 8, 2010

Love does not boast

It was one beautiful evening when cool wind breeze blew through the semi-opened windows, Christmas jingles filled the air and sparkling lights colored the trees and houses in the neighborhood. Inside one of the red houses behind a white picket fence on Water Street resided a big family. Brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, cousins and cousins, grandparents and grand children sat around a big dinner table munching on their ginger bread, drinking cups of brewed hot choco, talking, cajoling and laughing. It was a usual happy Christmas for them as the whole family gathered together. And love blanketed this red house. Did it, really?

Jony offered the chocolate crumble cake she baked earlier that day. She lavished it with praises, saying how good it was, how good of a baker she was in school and how much potential she has. Afterwards, her aunt Melly, offered her healthy carrot with chocolate chip and walnut muffin. Most of the family members opted for the healthier treat. Aunt Melly beamed as she looked at the happy faces munching down her muffins. Jony however was crushed. She had only one thing to offer the family and it was food. She secluded herself in one quiet corner and thought maybe she has no gifts, no talents, no skills after all. She felt like a worthless girl with no purpose in life. At least one of them was baking merely to have a license to boast.

Boasting happens a lot among families and friends, in whatever season of the year. A boast tops another boast when moms talk about their children on a Sunday afternoon get-together, or when friends share about their career plans after graduation, or when siblings show to dad each of their art works. The bigger and grander the boast, the better their standing is. Those who have nothing to boast about, well, they may opt to (1) criticize the better ones by finding their faults and imperfections, or (2) focus on those with a lower standing and place themselves over them, or they may just (3) feel sorry for themselves and become immobile.

According to an online etymology dictionary, "boast" comes from the Scandinavian word bausia that means "to blow up, puff up or swell." Boasting is a deadly condition characterized by an excessive build up of pride within one's own body. It may be localized to a single area (i.e. musical talents or intellect) or generalized throughout the whole being. We swell up as we emphasize about our high grades, our accomplishments, our career plans, our networks, our riches and fame, our acquisitions, our children because of our own abilities and strengths. Boasting gives no room for love.

Be wary and know the pathway of the proud. Proverbs 16 says "The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." What kind of punishment awaits? Since a proud heart produces sin (Prov. 21:4) and all the wages of sin is death (Rom 3:23), then all the proud and arrogant will die physically and spiritually.

Before we deal with this icky sin, let us first know the cause. Why do we put ourselves in the spotlight? Why do we want to feel important, to be loved, to be accepted by others, to let them see our worth, to be rewarded with praises or to impress?

We are afraid to be forgotten.

We do not want to be insignificant.

It's true that we are worthless, insignificant, sinful and depraved little beings. That is, apart from God. We are worthless apart from God who is our creator, inventor and the holder of our future. We are insignificant apart from God who alone can give life to our deadly state. And the only cure to this is to seek, to know, to feel, God's love.

God's love does not boast. Jesus Christ could've become a King living in a castle with all His miraculous powers but He had chosen to endure a lowly life, to feel hunger and thirst, to be tortured and to face a humiliating death. God's love does not put us down to place Himself up. When Jesus rose from the death, He wills for us, who are mere sinners, to rise from death and be with our Father in his majestic abode. God's love makes us significant and worthy. He "predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:5). Imagine being made princes and princesses without having an ounce of royal blood or without doing anything to acquire it.

God's love makes us secure. It is unconditional and unchanging. It embraces our crags and crevices that nothing in this world can ever match up with. It is so filling that we find ourselves complete.. even if we are not accepted, or praised or rewarded. And if ever we get praises, we adjust the angle of the spotlight to face only God. He is the source of all blessings anyway. "Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:31)

God's love is overflowing. A love from an almighty Father is something that we cannot possibly contain. And so we pass it onto others. We are learning to love others. We joyfully put them up and over ourselves. We encourage them so they too may work wholeheartedly and excellently for the Lord. We see the good in them and praise them generously. We see that the unworthy is worthy to receive God's love. The insignificant is significant of our love and time. We sacrifice our money, our effort and even our life for them without expecting anything in return. God's love is just too much that it is changing us from the inside out. It is making us more and more like Him. It is making us humble.

Aunt Molly grabbed a piece of Jony's cake while the group was eating her carrot muffin. "Wow, this is one of the best chocolate cakes I've tasted!" She exclaimed after her 1st bite and the whole family watched her enjoyment. "I don't think I was this good when I was your age," She pointed her fork at Jony, "You should really bake. Many people will enjoy your God-given talent!"

The uncles agreed with aunt Molly. Jony smiled, stood up from her chair and took a bite of aunt Molly's carrot muffin.

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