Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned 1 Timothy 1:5
The context of this scripture is walking in the “practicals” of the law of God as opposed to simply being filled with the “knowledge” of it and loving to preach it, which things are ineffectual. We shall be dealing with the broader aspects of this teaching in a later post.
In this post, however, I want to zero in on that part, “charity out of a pure heart”.
I wonder why Paul did not simply write “charity”; why would he need to add “out of a pure heart”? Why would he need to qualify the kind of love we need to have?
I am a slow learner and I am assured that the Lord has graciously allowed me to live these many years on this earth so I can learn a few more things. One of the things I have come to learn surprisingly is that much of our love does not come from a pure heart.
Have you ever read James 1:5 about how God gives wisdom to those who ask Him, “and upbraideth not”? That last part means He does not scold us. My computer’s Thesaurus, which is a tool of invaluable help to me, gives some additional “fire” for this phrase: “haul over the coals”, or “give a talking-to”. Those are pretty mean expressions, and the Bible is saying that God does not do any of those things to us.
But, alas! it is not so with us, or at least, most of us. I am of the firm belief that even with the best of us, loving with a pure heart is an uphill task. Now, don’t get me wrong; there are many instances where we find ourselves being quite capable of loving fully and unconditionally, but I am talking about those moments when our hearts are being tested. There will always come a time when our hearts are tested in this area.
I once lived with a man – a brother – who squeezed all the love out of me. The man had come to the city as a casual laborer and, as a brother, I took him in. But he had very many unsavory characteristics. He threw things about, and was generally quite disorderly. Personal hygiene was also a big challenge to him and, even though I made the importance of that aspect of life abundantly clear to him, there were times he would insist on going to bed without even taking a bath!
He also had a problem with money – which was unforgivable (at least, to me)! One needed a crowbar to just pull a shilling out of him. But, being the ‘kindly brother’ that I am, I took it all in my stride. I tried to right many of his wrongs without confronting him directly. Even when he slept without bathing I would sit by his bedside and I would chide him lightly, “How can you get any sleep without bathing?” He would cheerily laugh himself to sleep and, sure enough, it would be me who would be awake in the middle of the night, listening to his snoring!
His actions would sometimes have some members of my family literally walking up the wall, but I would calm them with the call to love. Yes, I do remember I was very loving to this brother!
EXCEPT, I would constantly dig at him with the phrase, “You know, you village guys…” Now, there was nothing wrong with that “village” phrase, but there was everything wrong with my heart. Those words were laced with a hostility which I was trying to make light of. They were my way of hitting back at the brother for his primitive habits. They were, in effect, my defense against my inability to love him with a pure heart. In other words, I was telling him, sotto voce, that he had problems, and that these problems had to do with his uncultured roots.
Soon this “village” language became an established part of my verbal interactions with the brother. If he did anything that I did not like I would tell him it was because of his “village” upbringing. But the brother would only laugh when I talked to him in that way.
One day, the Lord confronted me about that phrase. I think the Lord gives us only so much rope… and then He suddenly pulls us up short. When that moment approaches, you know play time is up.
That was what happened with me. I knew it immediately the Lord confronted me. And I knew I had to repent and leave off carrying that attitude.
I don’t recall that I ever asked the brother to forgive me for pummelling him with the filth from my impure heart. But I do know I stopped using the “village” phrase right away.
And that set me free. It set me free to be able to serve my brother without any negative “heart” conditions. In fact, I went to the extent that I would clean his room and even wash his (really dirty) clothes while he was away. When he came back home in the evening, I would welcome him with an open heart. I was just there basically making sure all those “heart” lines in me were open.
It was the best experience I have ever had. My heart was filled with joy and a sense of great victory.
One day, the brother said to me, “Thank you, my brother, for all you are doing for me.”
He had never said that to me before and I knew exactly what he meant. He was not thanking me for anything that I had physically done for him. But he had seen the “room” I had made for him in my heart and he was thanking me for that.
But he hardly needed to thank me. It was I who had actually gained from the experience.
“No”, I told him. “Thank you!”
The love that God calls us to does not have a choice in it. We cannot love the way we want. If we do that, we will come short because of our human failings. We must first lay down our lives, then take up our cross and follow Christ. We must first crucify the flesh. That way, we will love as God loves, which is out of a pure heart – a heart that “upbraideth not”.
[Below: This is as good an opportunity as any to introduce to my readers my elders, whom I mentioned in Part 1 of this post. Here are 3 of them – Eliya, Lazaro and Eli. These are the men under whom I serve. To the right is Lazaro’s wife, Leah. ]