religion

Brenda Cannon Henley

Verse 6 of 1 Corinthians 13 is important when we are working on developing and strengthening the love we have for God and for each other. I have always loved the verse that says so clearly that we love Him because He first loved us. How true that is in earthly relationships, too. It is much easier to love someone who loved us first or loved us best. When you walk into a new situation, the mind quickly focuses on the first person who reached out to welcome you or to be your friend.

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Words come in all shapes, sizes and languages, in caps or lower case letters, written, typed, inscribed or said. Sometimes they are spoken in a whisper and sometimes screamed from the rooftops. We often say or write things when we don’t even know for sure what the words mean. Words can help heal, and words can cause unbearable damage, wrecking homes, relationships, professions and our lives.

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We are down to a really hard attribute of love in our study of 1 Corinthians 13, often termed “the love chapter” in Scripture. We have discussed love, patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, and now this difficult one to practice or about which to write — being totally unselfish.

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I have enjoyed a delightful time really taking to heart the huge word “love” and trying to assimilate its wonderful qualities. I would like to think that this short four-letter word has made a difference in my life and that others can see and experience it in our day-to-day contact. I have learned several things from Professor Henry Drummond, who wrote the little gem “The Greatest Thing in the World,” where he avidly declares that love is indeed that. The edition I have is copyrighted in 1890, by James Pott and Co.

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I’ve wanted to write this column for many years, but have not had the unction or the freedom to sit down and do so. I decided several months ago that I would tackle my inner thoughts on mothers and sons and daughters while my health and mind were still up for the challenge. Let me add here before I delve in that I know all family dynamics are not the same.

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blackburncarter.com photo

I was sitting today in my favorite rocking chair on the big sun-washed deck literally doing nothing but looking out on the beautiful bay and thinking about how very pretty the water was shimmering and the fluffy white clouds that were bouncing in the sky. Every once in a while, my revelry would be disturbed or interrupted by a boat speeding by, heading under the bridge or to the marina for more gas or bait, a brightly colored jet ski stirring up the water in playful pursuit of another, or a few shore birds stopping to nibble on our oyster reefs.

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Wow! I confess I did not know where to start with this one. As I read more and more and studied writings and sermons, and read the Scriptures I could find on goodness, I realized just how big this subject is and how very little space we have to tackle it here in one column. Goodness is very important to God, and it is the sixth of the nine fruits listed in our reference verses found in Galatians.

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Let’s review the nine fruits of the Spirit of God. We started with love, joy, peace and meekness, and devoted two columns to the art of long-suffering before moving on to gentleness, today’s topic. How many of us have now memorized the fruits in the order in which they are listed? I confess I got two of them out of order when writing and was excited to get to one I particularly liked and had to do some backtracking to get them back in perspective. Perhaps this will help: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

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Meekness, I fear, is a very misunderstood word in our modern culture. One of the very best definitions I have found is, “An attitude of humble, submissive and expectant trust in God, and a loving, patient and gentle attitude towards others.” Meekness is mentioned often in Scripture, but I do not remember a great amount of time being given to discussion and teaching of the word.

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We began our study of the fruits of the Spirit as found in the Book of Galatians, Chapter 5, and covered love, joy, peace and started on long-suffering. Long-suffering has many meanings to many different people. Merriam Webster dictionary defines long-suffering as “patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.” Another resource book defines it as “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people (his long-suffering wife).”

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