I love this quote from John Wesley, a famous theologian and preacher from the 19th century. He wrote: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
It’s a statement we should read over and over again.
If we want to leave this world in a better state than when we entered it, it’s a good quote to ponder. This world needs good people. But it needs people who do good, often, whenever possible, wherever possible, to everyone possible, as long as we’re on this planet.
Can you imagine a world where good people regularly practiced good like this? I daresay we’d live in a world filled with good, where people practice love of God and neighbor as natural as breathing.
What a beautiful world that would be!
Why not all of us begin today, by practicing just one act of goodness to another?
When someone comes to you today and asks, “How are you doing,” many of us will respond, “Well, under the circumstances, I guess I’m doing fine.
Here’s my question for you today: Why are you living “under the circumstances?” Why have your life’s circumstances forced you into a position of feeling that life controls you and you don’t control life?
I don’t think any of us were ever created to live “under the circumstances.” We were created to live over our life’s circumstances. Though we often can’t control them, we can control how we allow them to affect our lives.
Therefore, today, choose to live above your circumstances! If you have some lousy ones besetting you, choose to use them for good. Choose to use them to help you grow, learn more, be a better person.
Choose to turn your scars into stars! Your hurts to hope! Your pain to possibilities!
That’s the way not to live under your circumstances.
It’s the path to personal power and freedom.
Hope in a very real way, is like money. To make more you must invest it. That’s why we hire financial experts to direct us toward the places where we can make more money. Now, I consider myself a “Hope expert.” I feel confident you can come to me and receive advice on how to increase hope in your life. However, unlike financial counselors who can point you to doxens of difference quality investments, I can only point you to one.
If you want hope to increase exponentially in your life, the ONLY place to invest it is in other people. That’s right, in other people. I can’t explain it. I don’t understanf it, but it’s true.
Invest your life in someone who needs help and hope will increase in yours. Don’t doubt me until you try it. And, like financial investments, you must do it faithfully over time.
Do you want to succeed? If so, remember this truth: life either succeeds or fails at the place where we meet our obstacles.
Obstacles happen to us all. They are natural to life. No one escapes them. The question then is not if they come to us. They most certainly do. The question is how we will handle them when they come.
If we meet them with courage, determined to plow through them, learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward, obstacles become important life lessons. They are key to success. But if we cower from them, fearful and paralyzed, the obstacle wins and we fail.
It’s very true: life either succeeds or fails at the place where we meet our obstacles.
Therefore, don’t let your obstacles define you. Use them as life lessons to make you stronger and more face the next obstacles that will come your way.
Believe me, they will come…over and over again.
Here’s a phrase I’ve often lived by: “the choice to rejoice.” Think about it. If true, it means I have the opportunity, every day, whether to choose joy in my life or live under my circumstances.
Have you made the choice to rejoice? If you stop and think about it, there are many reasons to choose joy today. Think about it. You awoke this morning, therefore there is a new opportunity for a new day. Most likely, you have food to eat, clothes to wear, work to do, people you love, people who love you!
Sit down today and give thanks for all you have. Note them in your brain. If possible, write them down. I bet your list will grow longer and longer.
If you are discouraged today, slow down and be thankful. Open the door to your heart to see and understand all the good in your life. See if the good doesn’t far outweigh the bad.
That’s the choice to rejoice all of us have today.
Choose wisely today!
There is one final kind of love we need to examine. It’s called agape. The Greeks seldom used this word to describe love. They thought it unattainable. It was used to describe the gods love for one another, but what human could love with agape?
What is agape? It is the total, unconditional acceptance of another just the way he or she is. It’s loving in spite of the feelings or circumstances. It’s the foundation of a lifelong marriage commitment. It is being patient and kind, not jealous, selfish or rude. It doesn’t seek its own way. It doesn’t store up the memory of wrongs done against it. It bears all things, endures all things and believes the best in the other, no matter what!
This term “agape” is the word that is used in the Bible to describe God’s love toward his creation. In fact, one verse in the Bible says, “As God has loved you, now love one another.” Can you imagine a world where everyone loved one another as God as loved us with agape.
That’s his will. When it finally happens, it will indeed be heaven on earth!
And it’s what the world needs now, this kind of agape, sweet agape!
We are looking at the four ways the Greeks could say, “I love you.” There’s storge love, common affection, mostly found in families. There’s also eros, physical attraction love.
But eros has its limits. It loves as long as feelings and circumstances allow it to love. There must be more. There is!
The third love is philea. It’s friendship love. The city, Philadelphia, comes from the two Greek words, “philea” and “adelphos”. Adelphos means “brothers” in the Greek. Therefore, Philadelphia is commonly called, “the city of brotherly love.”
Friendship love binds two together in their mutual interests. When you love with philea, you are very close to the other. You are practically inseparable. You share hurts, rejoice with successes and hardly ever experience jealousy.
If you have such a loyal “philea” friend, you are indeed fortunate. No one should pass through life without one! Make sure you are spending time in life developing this kind of love, especially with your spouse!
For it’s true: it’s easy to leave your spouse. It’s terribly difficult to leave your best friend.
It’s the kind of love that truly makes the world go round!
The second of the Greek words for love is eros. It’s the source from which we get the word “erotic” in our language.
It’s physical attraction. It’s what one of my seminary professors called “the fizz in the physical.” It’s the “wow” when you first saw your beloved. I know it’s what I felt when I first saw my wife!
It’s a necessary aspect of love. It’s the spark that gets the engine running in your closest relationship. It has caused generals to go off to war, kings to give up their thrones. It is a powerful, motivating, forceful feeling.
It’s the spark that makes a man and woman walk to an altar and pledge extraordinary promises. It causes kids to come! Hollywood and the record industry have built a multi-billion dollar industry on eros. It is a powerful motivator in the human endeavor.
If you have known eros with another, you are greatly blessed. It’s an important part of love.
It’s what help makes the human race function!
What is love? The first of the Greek words to describe it is storge. What is storge?
It is natural affection. It’s the feeling we possess mostly in our families. It’s what we feel toward our brothers and sisters, our cousins, aunts and uncles. It’s what we naturally should feel toward our Moms and Dads, who birthed us and should be committed to raise us until adulthood. It is the fondest feeling I feel when I think of the sacrifices my Mom and Dad made for me and my family.
Storge is found throughout the world. There is no one who hasn’t experienced it at one time or another. If you didn’t receive it in childhood, the best advice for you is to reverse the curse. Make sure you give it in your own family! It will then, eventually, be given back to you.
Take some time today to give thanks for storge in your life. It can often be overlooked as a real, vibrant love. But without it, the world would not work. It is terribly needed.
Because what the world still needs now is love, sweet love!
Love. It’s a word we throw around a lot. It can mean everything from a 60 plus year love relationship in a marriage (like my Mom and Dad had) to a teen in the back seat of a car saying, “I love you” when all he wants is a physical relationship!
What is love? It has nothing to do with outward appearance. It has nothing to do with image. It has everything to do with the heart. It’s an inward reality that can drive people to the greatest imaginable feats. It’s an urge that compels people to give up thrones and strive for fidelity at all costs.
In the English language we only have one word to describe it. In the Welsh language, there are purportedly twenty plus words to describe it. In the Greek language, there are four words to describe love. These four words we will look at over the next two weeks. At the end, I hope you’ll better know what love is.
For it’s still true today: what the world needs now is love, sweet love!