SLIDE BEGINS IN THE HEART
“The slide in standards creeps upon us unsuspectingly. But it always begins in the heart.”
IT IS A REMARK that frequently crops up in our family after a meal, whether in a fine restaurant or the neighbourhood food centre, or even at home. “Standard dropped.” Usually, it is in reference to the quality of food served. Occasionally, it is about the service provided by the staﬀ. There were times we concluded that the overall standard dropped, even though the food was above average, but the waiter was just indiﬀerent in his attitude towards customers.
The lack of excellence makes a whole diﬀerence in many situations.
Even though we may not use the term, sometimes we feel that way after the worship, or the sermon. Somehow we feel short-changed. The worship leader seemed out of sorts this morning; the same for the preacher.
What about our personal spiritual disciplines – slackening in our attention to prayer, shorter periods for Bible meditation, reducing our tithes and oﬀerings, excusing ourselves away from acts of charity?
Then there is the service we oﬀer to God, or that is expected of us as His children. Reluctance has sneaked into what was once a passion. Procrastination has overtaken the eagerness of early preparation. Then there is the awkward realisation that we now enjoy the accolades where once we sincerely pointed the glory back to God.
The slide in standards creeps upon us unsuspectingly. But it always begins in the heart. It is like the people in the church at Laodicea, who said, “I am rich, I am wealthy, and have need of nothing.” But the Lord said, “(You) do not know that you are wretched, poor, blind and naked.”
Complacency has its roots in a false sense of self-suﬃciency. These in turn breed contempt for the advice of others. When we measure who we are, and what we do, by who we are and what we do, we have set the stage for self-deception to blind us to reality and lead us to a big crash round the corner.
To return to excellence is to heed the words of our Lord to the Laodiceans, “Buy from me gold refined in the fire … and white garments … and eye salve.” Pay the necessary price to get the best God has for us. Always uphold God’s standard of what is right. With vision restored, set our sight, and heart, on what really matters to God.
The Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup is the President of Trinity Annual Conference
WHAT SPIRITUALITY MEANS TO ME
A journey of learning to love God and others
JESUS’ GREATEST COMMANDMENT for us is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength … Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark12:30-31).
Spirituality is a life fully devoted to loving God and loving our neighbours as we discover more about God’s love for us. Spirituality is the work of the Holy Spirit to help us understand God’s love for us so that we may receive the capacity to love over and over again as God’s unfailing love touches our lives.
I recalled a senior pastor once told me this: Whenever I am appointed to a local church, let my focus be that of loving my church leaders.
I had treasured this advice in my heart all these years in ministry, and whenever there were tensions in church, I would remind myself that I am called to this ministry to love God and His people, to build them up in love.
I often meditate on this Bible passage to help me in my journey to love:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col 3:12-14).
Loving God and loving our neighbour is never an easy journey. It is a sanctifying and perfecting process in Christ, and we need to continually respond to God’s grace in the process.
In the earlier days of my Christian journey, I had mistaken spirituality to be having quiet time, Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and serving in church. I see them as ends and not the means. With my new understanding of spirituality, I began to see all these spiritual practices as means of grace from God to help me come into God’s presence, to receive God’s love in my life so that I can live a life of love in Christ.
To conclude, spirituality is a journey of learning to love God and others in response to God’s gracious love for us in Christ. With the company of the Holy Spirit, we may recover the image of God and renew our soul in His likeness so that we may develop the life of love that God desires from us. It is a journey of having “the mind of Christ and to walk as Christ walked”.