Living For Others

1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Rom. 15:1-4

Recently my wife and I were in a special time of prayer. We did not set out to pray for anything specific; we simply felt a desire to spend some time in the Lord’s presence.

As we prepared to begin, the scripture that naturally came to mind was Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

We thought we knew what this scripture meant – had read and heard it taught hundreds of times. That is, until we decided to study it a little bit more; and then we were surprised to find the context in which it was written. As we read through Romans 14 through 15 we found out that this scripture was written in the context of not only not becoming a stumbling block to a brother (14:13); but, more importantly, to bear with the weaknesses of others. To not despise, and to not judge others. And, finally, to welcome everyone into our hearts, regardless of their weaknesses.

It slowly dawned on us that this required a lot more grace than we had. The admonition to judge not, and to “receive ye one another” (15:7) were quite a tall order for us. (It is the most natural thing to “receive” people selectively. And there are some things that man is a professional at, right from birth: things like judging or despising those who do not attain to his particular ‘standards’.)

But in these scriptures we also see the heart of God. The heart of God is the heart of a father. God’s heart is wide enough to accommodate everyone. No wonder God “… maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” – Mat. 5:45.

More importantly, though, we see that the Apostle Paul also carried this heart, the heart of a father. That is why he could write these things. It was a life that he lived.

No one man knows what the future holds for them. But one thing I desire of God is that He may give me the grace to carry the men and women that He brings into my life with His heart, a heart of grace.

Is it any coincidence that it is to the very people that he wrote these words – the Roman brethren – that Paul sent his most personal greetings? He proved how much of a father he was: he not only knew each one of them by name but even more surprising, he knew their lives almost inside out!

Among the many salutations that touch my heart greatly is this one: “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”

Paul felt it important to acknowledge that these brethren had met Christ before him! He even says these men are “of note” among the apostles. He found something POSITIVE to say about each person!

We could write much here, but let us not stray from true need of our hearts: to carry God’s grace in our lives for others.

There are so many people out there that need ENCOURAGEMENT instead of discouragement. There are so many people who need to feel a heart of SUPPORT instead of a judgmental stare.

A fatherly heart of COMPASSION is the keyword here.

Needless to say, we can arrive at this level of spiritual maturity and grace in dealing with people only when we are daily walking in the revelation of the cross – denying self, taking up our cross and following Christ. Our boasting in this regard – and it is the only boasting we have in the gospel – is when we are dying daily.

[Below: The Apostle Paul knew intimately the lives of the men and women that he worked with. Scripture challenges us to do the same]

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My Mother Also

Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Rom. 16:13

I am sure that Rufus’ mother was not just lounging about singing lullabies for Paul and Co. whenever they would visit her home. She and Paul must have had a relationship that so touched Paul’s heart to the extent that he could say of her, “She is my mother also”. She probably did not do something physical, but that she did something, of that I am sure. Paul would not go about scattering compliments like confetti. (Today we do a lot of that, unfortunately, especially in Pentecostal circles.)

And right here I can tell you exactly what Rufus’ mother did: she gave her life. Many Christians have this idea that ‘giving your life’ to Christ only involves making that initial confession whereby they accept Jesus into their lives.

But actually, giving our lives to Jesus is living a sacrificial life. Rufus’ mother must have given her life to Paul in such a sacrificial manner that he could say of her, “She is my mother”. It was a pricey relationship.

When I began writing this blog about two years ago, I did not have a laptop. I had an old desktop, which gave up the ghost not long after I had purchased it. I would therefore work this blog and do all my other stuff on borrowed computers or in internet cafes.

When our Canadian friends Frank and Carol came over to visit us in February last year, I was asked by my church elders to go keep them company in the house they were staying in in the city of Mwanza. So I travelled all the way from Dar es Salaam to go stay with them.

On arrival I remember noticing Carol using this flashy-looking laptop, and I quickly performed an act of “deliverance” on myself to ward off the spirit of covetousness that I could feel creeping up on me.

After about a week I had forgotten all about the laptop (Carol would use it only minimally). Then one evening Carol got it out and said to me, “Mwita, this computer is for you”, or words to that effect. She then proceeded to tell me how she had managed to purchase it: she had sewn sweaters (she is an expert at the art), and with the money she got from selling them to friends she had bought me the laptop.

As you can expect, I was deeply moved. I will not tire you with the details of the many conflicting emotions that rose up in my heart on hearing this very unexpected news, but suffice it to say that today I write this blog and do many other things for God’s Kingdom on a brand new laptop.

I happen to know that this blog has been a blessing to one or two people, at the very least. And although I might not understand God’s ways very well, I am assured that if even one person might have come to a deeper knowledge of God through what is written herein, that is an incredible blessing.

I know also that Carol did not give me this laptop so I could write about her (she was not even aware that I was running a blog then), therefore I am not blowing anyone’s trumpet here and I am sure her reward is safe in heaven.

But what I want to say here is that whenever I think of any tiny thing that could have been attained for the Kingdom of God through using this laptop, I always think of Carol. I think of the heart that must have gone into doing what she did. Of course, having known each other for more than 20 years Carol and I have much that unites us; and yet it is the work that I do through this laptop that makes me think of her more than anything else.

I consider her my mother in the Spirit, just as much as she is many other people’s mother. I love her with all my heart. And I thank her exceedingly.

It is therefore with a deep sense of gratitude that I write this post and I feel deeply satisfied that I have finally found the grace to do so.

I know also that she and her husband have paid an incredible price in many different other ways for the Kingdom of God. But suffice it here to just mention this little act of kindness which has meant so much for me and, hopefully, for God’s Kingdom.

[Below: My mother, Carol]

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