Constant Mutual Love..., For Charity Covereth a Multitude of Sins........ & Hospitality without Murmuring....
Consider the sad ode. Yes, consider the sometimes silly ode. And yet more, take a moment to consider the sometimes heart wrenching ode of those who long to be a hermit awaiting the second coming of our Lord.
If one were to read I Peter 4:7, and to stop at that one snippet of scripture, one might believe that hermits are meeting the highest of all callings:
"The end is at hand. Be prudent therefore, and watch in prayers."
Oh, yes! I can relate to those who desire to be just such a hermit! Being an introvert and therefore being recharged *more* by being alone than by being with others, such a life seems, at times, to promise heavenly bliss.......
However, the scripture does not stop with 'watch in prayers'. Perhaps some people have truly been called to the life of a hermit.... However, according to scripture, that is not supposed to be the norm, whether it is appropriate for a few or not. How do we know that?
In the very next verse(s), I Peter 4:8-11 God calls us to a very active life involved with the body of Christ":
8) But above all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins. 9) Using hospitality one towards another, without murmuring, 10) As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another: as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11) If any man speak, let him speak, as the words of God. If any man minister, let him do it, as of the power, which God administereth: that in all things God may be honoured through Jesus Christ: to whom is glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen. (Douay-Rheims 1899 Am.Ed.)
Let's ponder that again - using a bit of formatting to help with the pondering:
"Above ALL have....:
"FOR CHARITY COVERETH A MULTITUDE OF SINS......
"AS EVERY MAN HATH RECEIVED GRACE,
THE SAME (grace)
ONE TO ANOTHER
"AS......STEWARDS OF THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD.
"If any man speak, let him speak,
. . . . . ........ as the words of God........"
Wait a moment here...... did you catch that?
Furthermore, when we are called to speak 'as the words of God', what is it that we had to be reminded to do?: show hospitality without murmuring!
Oh! Compare the gracious words of God with murmuring and weep with me....
In spite of our inclinations to murmur, God, filled with His manifold grace, has a plan to help us overcome our fleshly inclination to murmur.... and better, to:
"....speak.........as the words of God.....!"
Oh! God is at work in our lives, calling on us to join in as He goes about changing the stony hearts of men into loving and kind hearts of living flesh!
But how does one dare to even try to speak 'as the words of God'? What does that look like? And what if others who profess Christ seem to resist our sharing 'constant, mutual love' with them?
Certainly, the phrase 'let him speak *as* the word of God' must be understood in the context of being 'stewards of the manifold grace of God!'
What must this ability to speak 'like,' or 'as' "The words of God" look like?
Some men have claimed that their legalistic speakings were the very words of God. However, it is most certainly clear that legalism is not the call upon 'stewards of the manifold grace of God.'
Rather, as stewards of His ****manifold***** grace, we are called upon to minister the manifold grace of God to the brethren and to extend Christ's offer of the manifold grace of God to the unsaved.
When that grace is shared among the brethren with 'constant mutual love' among *****all**** of them, then 'love covers a multitude of sins' in entirety.
On the other hand, when that grace is hoarded and shared only among a select few (be they leadership of the church, or be they against the leadership of the church, and/or etc.), the lack of love actually creates a new multitude of sins........
Is there anything to cover this new multitude of sins?
Yes! Thanks to the glorious plan of the God of manifold grace!
The manifold grace of God can still come into the midst of the church through those who were left out in the cold, even through those who, being rejected by men, still place their steadfast faith in the Christ. All such believers know that they are held close to the heart of the Father, the heart of the Heavenly Father whose heart cherishes their every tear......
Yes, those who are left out in the cold by those professing Christ still have the calling on their lives to be 'stewards of the manifold grace of God' - - - - sharing constant love with all who are willing to share love with them, and extending it towards those who will not share it with them - - - - - living at peace with others as much as it is possible with them.....
When the love they extend is not fleshly and self-righteous, when the love they extend is from the God of manifold grace, then the love which they extend does in actuality have the power to cover a multitude of sins...
.......but not by their effort - rather, as with all sin, the covering of sins can only be accomplished by the manifold grace of God........
While it is not natural for those who are hurt by the church to love the church best, that is exactly what Christ did for His people..... for the called......... for His bride - a bride who rejected Him, even rejecting Him at her own peril, taking a deadly poison into herself, a poison for which she had no antidote. But Christ had that antidote - and willingly died on the cross in order to share that antidote with her(us) because those who had hated Him still needed Him - - - but more than that, He still loved them! Yes, He loves us, and calls on us to share that love with others, even with an imperfect church, even when that imperfect church wounds us.
Which brings us round full circle for those who have that desire to be a hermit, and 'watch in prayers'. Whether a longing to be a hermit arises out of one's natural nature to be introspective and introverted, and/or out of pain caused by the not-yet-perfect nature of the church, one must be active while one is at 'watch and prayers', sharing a 'constant mutual love' with each other in as much as it is possible with us..... in order for us to do the greater work:
..." that in all things God may be honoured through Jesus Christ: to whom is glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
Lord Jesus, help me, help us, oh, yes, help me!
Help me to forget the past you died to wash away!
Help me to focus on the fellowship of the saints in heaven, where your perfect love will flow through us perfectly - when we will no longer fall short of expressing your perfect love in this fleshly form.
Help me to press on towards the high calling to love perfectly, to bridle my tongue, to see the lost through your eyes.
Help me to see your church *only* through your eyes as well: your beloved who has thankfully taken the antidote to the poison of spiritual death which she had taken into herself, but your beloved who still needs nursing because of the poison of the sting of death which is still affecting her life through her *mortal flesh*.......
Your beloved who needs to take seriously the admonitions to live a holy life even while here on earth (Romans 8:13, James 1:22-27, etc.) - not that works save, but that those who have new life in them will respond to your voice, your word, your call to love others as you yourself are love.
Help me(us) to remember that we have *the mind of Christ* - that if our mind is distracted by the cares of this world, that our mind can be renewed again to 'the mind of Christ' (Romans 12:1-3).
Help me(us) to turn my(our) heart(s) towards heaven (Matthew 6:21).
Help me(us) to love God with my(our) whole heart (Luke 10:27).
Help me(us) to set my(our) heart(s) and mind(s) in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7), yea, even to have (a) purified heart(s) through faith (Acts 15:9) and have the word of faith in my(our) heart(s) (Romans 10:8), even have the word of God written on my(our) heart(s) (2 Cor 3:2), that such word written on my(our) heart(s) makes me(us-each) an epistle of Christ (2 Cor 3:3).
Help me(us) to overcome the flesh - to actually be recharged more by seeing your love proclaimed, than by anything else this world has to offer.
All that God may be honored through Jesus Christ........ in us....... by the incredible work of your manifold grace.