Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.

 
 
 

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Thought for the Evening
4-03

1CORINTHIANS 13, PART THREE:

Suffering Kindly
"Charity suffers long, and is kind"
1Corinthians 13:4a

As a young man hunting one pleasant winter afternoon, I brought down a dove with my grandpa's double barrel twelve gauge shotgun. Walking through the bushy field to pick up the bird, I found that he was only wounded. Cautiously, I stooped to pick him up. In my hand, his head was erect, his eyes open, and he was fully alert, though unable to fly. I was very cautious about touching him at first, but I soon found that my fear of the wounded dove was baseless. He never once attempted to peck my hand or in other way harm me. He let me hold him in my hand without any resistance, but only stared out toward the fields, over which he would never again dart with such grace as doves soar. In sober amazement, I stood there holding the clearly terrified and yet completely submissive creature. My heart ached that I had shot such a gentle creature.

One of the most remarkable qualities of the love of God in action, or "charity", is the power that it can give people to endure suffering and, at the same time, be kind to others, even to those who are hurting them. The brutalized Jesus meant it from the bottom of his harmless heart when he pleaded from the cross, "Father! Forgive them. They do not know what they are doing!" The young man Stephen also, when he was being stoned to death, begged God not to charge his murderers with the crime. The love of God removes malice so completely from the soul that Jesus' injunction to "pray for your enemies" can become part of our nature. "Turning the other cheek" runs against the grain of our human nature, but the holy Ghost makes us "partakers of the nature of God" so that we can think as He thinks and feel as He feels toward people. The love of God does not take away pain; if anything, it awakens the spirit so that one feels the pain more acutely. But it creates in us an attitude towards others that is like our heavenly Father, and like Jesus, and like Stephen.

It is impossible for any man to be, by nature, as harmless as a dove, but what is impossible for man is possible with God. It is to that once-impossible life that Jesus calls us, for by his retaining a kind disposition toward those who were hurting him, Jesus obtained for us the gift of the Spirit that enables us to be like him.

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