The Lifestyle of Love

This love month, heart-shaped crafts and sweets have started popping out here and there. But are these really enough to express our affection to others?

Love seemed to have poured out early this February for all KMBI Head Office staff with a devotion from Rev. Eduardo “Jun” Cunanan, Jr., a pastor from the Word of Hope Christian Church. He dissects the characteristics of love as outlined by the apostle Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) which says,

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

In his exhortation Rev. Cunanan revealed that love is not a feeling in itself. It is an umbrella term that encompasses different emotions and feelings. It is something that we put into action every single day. He stated three ways to practice the lifestyle of showing love:

1. Loving unconditionally

Agape or unconditional love is the sort of love that God used to give us the Great Commandment. If we love, there must be no condition. You accept the person regardless of who they are and where they are in life. We should receive others as Jesus received us, for He accepted us without any conditions. Similarly, we need to be more accepting towards others even at their worst. Learning to accept is like a “character sandpaper” – the more we are open to loving others no matter how incompatible they are with our values, the more it refines our character.

2. Honoring others

It means acknowledging that you need the strength of others to fill your shortcomings. It is knowing that there are people better than you in certain aspects, and that you cannot do things just by yourself. Simply asking for help on a difficult task is already a sign of giving honor to others.

In like manner, honoring others means serving them out of joy – rather than obligation – through lending your skills and abilities when they need it most. God gave us different strengths and weaknesses so we can learn to rely on the help of others, and thus strengthening the bonds we have for our brothers and sisters under Christ.

3. Forgiving freely

Forgiveness is a gift from God. Without it, we would not be redeemed from sin. If you pass on that gift to others, you are freeing yourself from the bitterness caused by people who had done you wrong in the past. Most of us seem to suppress our ability to forgive especially when we are clouded by hurt and other negative emotions. As followers of Christ, forgiving somebody is synonymous to forgetting what they did. If we can forgive but not forget, then it will be difficult for us to fully move on.

To summarize, love is a habit and a choice that defines us as Christians. As the Lord said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV) Our love for God becomes evident in the love we show to our neighbors.

Women Are WOW: 12 Virtues That Will Add Value To Women

Last MicroEntrepreneurs’ Summit, former beauty queen Ms. Miriam Roberto-Quiambao reminded all women entrepreneurs to uphold the twelve (12) virtues that will add more value to their being as an essential part of society. This national women’s month, let us call to mind the virtues she has imparted to the Program Members:

• Integrity – upright towards her thoughts, words, and actions

• Service – exercises freewill to serve and carry out her duty to her kin and fellows

• Health – takes responsibility in securing the welfare of self, spouse, and family to better serve the needs of the community

• Stewardship – practices the ‘custodian’ role; frugal when it comes to finances

• Charity – voluntarily contributes to the betterment of her neighbours, takes initiative to aid those in need

• Foresight – has a sense of what’s to come, plans ahead and invests for the future of her family

• Marriage – gives due importance to the sacred ties with her husband, respects and loves spouse

• Industry – utilizes her God-given strengths and talents for the benefit of many

• Speaks life – upholds tact and serenity in speech, knows that words can make or break an individual

• Time – has the ability to properly manage her time for family, business and self

• Family-oriented – strives to be a good wife, mother, and homemaker

• Fears the Lord – based on Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” True beauty stems from the goodness of the heart, which comes from fearing God

How can we define love?

Love can be communicated through a variety of ways. A simple tap on a friend’s shoulder is already a sign of love. The warm hands that you hold with affection is another. The quality time you spend keeping someone company is indicative of your willingness to dedicate a part of your life to theirs, which is also another expression. Because of love, we experience the bliss of being human. Such emotion is the reason we give pieces of ourselves to others so we could nurture relationships with them.

But, more than the physical expressions, one unparalleled story of love can be found in the Bible. As corrupted beings, humans have fallen short of God’s grace—sin has spread like a virus and caused His creations to lose their path. The land He created was thrown into chaos. Being an all-powerful God, He could have easily destroyed the sin-driven world and created another one free from sins using the power of His words. But He didn’t. Instead, He loved us even more. His hatred of sin has inflicted the curse of death on humans, but as a God of love, justice, and mercy, He would not allow the creations created with a likeness of His image to wind up in eternal damnation.

In the classic and most powerful verse found in John 3:16, we are constantly reminded that God had the choice not to send His son to redeem mankind. But because He loves us, He gave everything, even His precious Son, to rebuild us from brokenness. God has shown a true mark of love that no human-being can ever match. In other words, we are overflowing with His love.

Now, the question is: have we given just a portion of it to others?

Take a look at your surroundings. Do you see that co-worker whom you dread to see every day? Has it been your habit to ignore the beggar you see in the streets on your way to work? Can you walk up to your enemy and greet him or her with a pleasant smile? Do you boss your subordinates around? Do you shun people just because their views are different from yours?

If we do any of these, then perhaps it’s time to reassess the way we live our lives. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us the spiritual context of love:

First, it is patient. It is about tolerating the mistakes of an individual but not condoning it. For example, kids have a natural tendency to commit mischief every now and then. We try to correct their misdeeds, but they will be bound to repeat the same act over and over. But did it ever cross our mind to give up on them, stop raising them, and leave them to the local orphanage? No, because we love them. Same thing applies to older people. When we try to understand the point of view of others, we become more considerate and more forgiving toward those who hurt us. Often you would hear, “ikaw naman ang may mas malawak na pang-unawa, kaya intindihin mo na lang.” You want to avoid fights, and you never intend to inflict emotional pain on people just to show that we are displeased with them.

Second, it is kind. Jesus was constant in His demonstrations of kindness. He healed the sick, stopped the mob from stoning an adulterer, cast out demons from the possessed, and fed the hungry. He gave His life to save us without demanding anything in return. His suffering on the cross was for OUR sake, not His own. In the context of humanity, kindness may refer to sharing God’s blessings and forgiveness without expectations. We are merely custodians of His grace. We don’t have to worry about running out of resources, as His grace alone is infinite.

Third, it is humble. The most common trait among broken relationships is pride. And it is also the reason why these relationships are still cracked. Mastering humility requires us to forgive people. After all, we lose nothing when we forgive others. In fact, we first received it from God for free, and Jesus Christ made the payment in our place.

Next, it is virtuous. It does not rejoice at wrongdoings. It loves the sinner, but hates the sin. As humans, it is our duty to love fellow humans, but loving them doesn’t include accepting their erroneous acts. If our parents had to resort to punishment as a form of discipline, it meant they wanted us to realize that we could have ended up so much worse if we had continued committing mistakes. They did not want our paths to go astray, because they love us.

And lastly, it is perseverant. It endures all things. Christ put Himself to endure on the cross, when in fact we should have been the ones punished instead of Him. But He endured the pain, simply because He loves us. Similarly, if we love God, then the love should manifest in the love that we give to our brothers and sisters. Jesus said to His disciples: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)

Remember, what we do to our neighbor is also a clear reflection of what we would do to God. If we love them, then we already did the same to the Lord. It is impossible to love God if we cannot bring ourselves to love our brethrens first.

(Inspired by the speech of Bulacan Area Manager Mr. Jose Archie Cruz during the Corporate Fellowship on February 1, 2017)

SHAPE Up!

This 2017, it is good to re-assess our SHAPE:

S - Strength

Are you aware of your abilities? What exactly are you good at? How can you share your strengths to the ministry?

H - Heart

What is your passion? Do you love what you’re doing? Guard your heart with diligence. Ensure that it is in tune with God's heart.

A - Attitude

Are you a team player? Do you think positively? Or are you a nega star? Do you work with humility? Or are you a star performer with attitude problems?

P - Personality

Are you introvert/extrovert? Are you choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, or melancholic? Find out because it would help you cope with your colleagues or with the tasks at hand. Think beyond the box!

E - Experiences

We are all products of various experiences. We should take into account the past experiences of other people to deeply understand the reason why they behave in certain ways.