Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal [1 Corinthians 13: 4-8]. Love is the greatest in comparison with faith and hope [1 Corinthians 13:13]. It is the greatest virtue that encompasses all other and embodied in all principles, actions and things of good value.
Love is intense, overwhelming all other feelings. It is for love that we disagree with family for the new directions life takes us to; whether it be a partner, a talent, a cause, and/or most importantly – God [Luke 12:51-53]. Love is the first, the all, the last and the forever of all virtues, principles and everything that comes to mind. Everything of good value has love as its basis, hence, if love is absent in a word, action and intent, it is easily detected and objected to because of love’s conspicuous nature. It is the most powerful force that created the universe and sustains it. It can also be what destroys it.
Why? There are two kinds of love: love of God and love of money [Matthew 6:24].
The love God is what created the world, the universe and everything in it. God is love [1 John 4:8], and so He extends His love and Himself in creating us and by creating everything for us, putting us in the space of the world to enjoy the fullness of day and night, earth and water, plants and animals, air and life; putting us in the space of the world to recreate love in marriage, family, charity towards the needy and kindness towards one another; putting us in the space of the world to make the most of our lives in it with talents and His Spiritual gifts to us. And all He asks in return is that we love Him back above all things [because it is only in Him who created us that we will find ‘rest – St. Augustine‘, peace, love and understanding of things which seem beyond human comprehension], and to love our neighbour as ourselves [because that is the only way we can be good to ourselves and experience true joy].
God’s love is encompassing of all the qualities of love listed in the definition. He is so giving and forgiving that He forgives contrite sinners always because their sins had been paid for by the blood of His Son – Jesus Christ – given us for this redemption.
Love towards God and neighbour is one, because you cannot claim to love God and be cruel, selfish, and destructive towards neighbour. Instead, the love of God moves us to be good to our neighbour by being patient, kind, tolerant and forgiving towards neighbour; it helps us to keep the commandments to not commit murder and adultery, to not steal and accuse another falsely, and to not covet what belongs to our neighbour. Loving our neighbour is one of the manifestations of loving God, because we and neighbour are the form He created as temple of His abode on earth when, during creation, He breathed life into us. The moment we lose this breath, we return to Him, leaving the dust from which He molded us. And this is why Jesus reminds us that – whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to Me [Matthew 25:40]. The other manifestations of loving God are also contained in the first five of the ten commandments as the last five mentioned earlier.
The second type of love, which is money, is the opposite of all the good of the former with the same intensity, and with the force to mar. The love of money is selfish and leads to shameless greed – taking forcefully and stealing money and property, and then hoarding them from acts of kindness and charity. It is what we see in our political leaders who plunder the national treasury for their few-selves; hinder the exploration of our various natural and mineral resources by keeping them locked up in the exclusive reserve and dormancy of the federal level; and continue to put the burden of economic revival on the poor masses with increasing and multiple taxations without commensurate basic and infrastructural amenities, while they – political leaders – continue to increase their self-allocations.
The love of money engenders cruelty and corruption against neighbour, and this intensifies the desire to dominate by a false sense of power to tower over fellow persons. It is the reason many civil servants and employees in the seats of service misuse their office by being corrupt towards their publics and clients; and it is why insincere political aspirants fight, kill and destroy for political seats.
The love of money gives a false sense of joy; a delusion laden with deep sadness and masked with sadistic thrills. The poor-rich man in the Bible [Matthew 19:16-22] could not reach the true joy he desired because he relied on and loved his possessions beyond what he sought – the joy and love of the Lord. Although, we know from the Bible, that he was a good man because he obeyed the commandments, but he could not relinquish the false security of his wealth and solely incorporate the Godly love within him in his upright lifestyle, so as to experience the ‘perfect’ joy he sought – for all good deed done without love is nothing [1 Corinthians 13:1-3].
If this good rich man tried his best to experience perfect joy but felt unfulfilled because of his attachment to his possession, how much more are the deluded and the sadistic joys of those who cheat, steal, kill, destroy lives and property for the love of money, thereby rendering millions impoverished, frustrated and suicidal? The love of money gives a false sense of security to be vengeful, bitter, proud and ill-mannered towards neighbour, It is a humongous deceit of power in the conceited mind.
Parents and guardians are the first and, likely, the most important socializing agents that nurture children and wards into the society. Parents have the duty of showing and giving love to their children and wards. It is important they learn and be wise in making a balance of the ‘stick and carrot’, so that they neither spoil nor abuse the child. Asides, loving their children and wards, they have to teach and show the children how to love God and their neighbour as themselves. This helps a child to grow in self-confidence and in service to mankind, so that they make good citizens and leaders of society, and make a new generation of a holy society and world.
People who cannot love another person’s child have no business becoming guardians, and so maltreating and destroying the innocence of children by breeding them into broken and vengeful criminals. May God renew such guardians and parents for the sake of His innocent and helpless children. In Jesus Christ name. Amen.
I am saddened by the growing number of religious leaders focused on propagating prosperity in the material sense of the word. I feel they are responsible for the growing money-related crimes, corruption and political leaders’ embezzlements that are destroying the country, mankind and the world, rather than renewing these as commissioned by Christ – Matthew 28:19-20. This is because religious leaders have the whole citizens of a society, a country and a world coming to them for guidance for daily living. I am broken at their impact on the people and society when I hear them say: ‘Poverty is a sin and a disease!” Why should a Christian religious leader make such a statement knowing fully well that Jesus Christ came into the world humble [born of poor parents and in a manger among animals; lived, loved and preached among the poor, with no roof over His head]?
“Happy are those who obey the Lord, who live by His commands.” This Psalm 128: 1 – came with promises highlighted from verse 2 to the end. They are promises of fruitfulness that start from your household: ‘that your work will provide your need; and you will be happy and prosper; your wife will be a fruitful vine; your children will surround your table like shoots of olive; you will see your society prosper all the days of your life, and you will live long [to see your grandchildren]; peace be with your society.’ [I further paraphrased Jerusalem and Israel as society. They can also be represented as – a holy people and nation.]
Does this reference above resemble anything Nigeria and many other [mostly African] countries are looking like today? Is our work or our corruption in our offices providing for us? Are you happy and prosperous or deluded by material possessions? Are your wife and children like vines or self-entitled as you in your corrupt tendencies? Is your society, in your eyes, prosperous and likely to be so all your life with your corruption and the legacy you have passed on to your children? Is there peace in your country or are people dying of poverty, strife and disunity, caused by your corruption and your love of money?
To religious leaders, I implore, to reconsider their objective in preaching and teaching to reflect true essence – faith and hope in God, love, goodness, and holiness. How do you expect the poor to process, in addition to his misery, that they are a disease and a sin to society? And what do you suppose others will do to avoid poverty so that they are not viewed as a disease, a sin and unequal with their fellow men in society? You are creating a divide the Christ you preach about tried to close when a leper, alienated by society as reaping the result of his sinfulness, came up to Him and asked – “if you are willing, you can make me clean.” And Jesus, with all the love and affection He could give, responded – “I am willing. Be clean – Matthew 8:2-3.”
Prosperity in the Christian parlance is deeper than material possession. Obviously, God made it imperative in His teaching that labourers should be paid their wages – Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18, Matthew 10:10, Leviticus 19:13, and Deuteronomy 24:15. He also let us know [in Matthew 25:14–30] the importance of utilizing our talents for multiplication and fulfillment.
Our talents and employment are his gifts to us to explore for usefulness in our lifetime, and we will be rewarded for them as we make society better with them. Hence, in Psalm 128:1, He tells us that our prosperity comes from obeying His Commandments [to love God above all, and our neighbour as selves, as summarized by Christ – Matthew 22:37-40]. So, when we are honest and diligent in our work – we will get paid, rewarded and/or recognized, as well as fulfilled, and these will make us happy; then when we remember to share with our neighbour, we will prosper. This prosperity is not only in the good reward of our work but in the peace and joy it gives us for our positive impact on society. If your impact is corruption, poverty and death of another, it will not make you happy and prosper, but might make you deluded when you close the door of your conscience and pretend to be blind to your negative impact on society.
Once, again, prosperity is beyond material possession, but ingrained with the feeling of peace, joy, love, and fulfilment that comes from purity, charity, sincerity, honesty, diligence, hard work and patience; and need I say – it further gives a multiplying positive effect on your household, your lifetime and the society you create and leave behind for others. To one who lives or have lived in this way, I will say – He or She is or was prosperous!
Our whole essence is God [our source, beginning, lifetime, end and hope]. I had to take this time to appeal to the religious to be conscious of their message because they are a great influence that forms the characters of a society. Hence, Religious leaders are responsible by their teaching and examples for the child they form and send into society, for the parents they groom to care for the children, for the mass of employed and unemployed youth, adults and civil servants they churn out into society for service; and for all the leaders they conscientize to lead and serve society. Christ’s great commission to go into the world to call all to Him should no longer be fiddled with, because it has to do with making all – a holy people for God and for one another, and creating a holy world where God is hallowed.
“Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen! It would be better for him if a large millstone were tied around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:1-2. I believe this applies to parents and wards, religious, political and all leaders in the world. Watch what you do, say and teach; be mindful of the opportunities given you to serve and to lead – you will account for them all, starting here on earth before your eyes. Love God and neighbour by obeying the commandments, embracing virtues and holiness. Do not love money, it is the root of all evil – 1 Timothy 6:10.
It is not wrong to have wealth, so long as it is acquired honestly. But do not hoard it and fall in-love with it as against loving your neighbour. Use your money to further enrich lives for the love of God and of neighbour. This gives true prosperity – to you and the society at large.
By Linda IfeanyiChukwu Ogbue – 9th of January, 2021
I pray and hope that my opinion isn’t far from the truth. Please, let me know what you think in the comment area below. I will appreciate your input as I hope to also learn from you. Thank you.