Book Review: {Charity and It’s Fruits}

Charity and It’s Fruits

By Jonathan Edwards

This post is a little bit a book review and a LOT about our culture and love. WOW! Big topic, I know. But something I feel very passionate about. I used to think loving people was easy and simple. It’s really not simple and it’s actually VERY difficult!

A very common verse for many is Phillipians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

And that, is super hard! We all love ourselves best and we always want to choose what we want. It’s our natural tendency, the biggest cookie, the nicest looking piece of fruit, the best desk location at the office, the most flattering photos for facebook and the list could go on. I’m not saying we need to debase ourselves or think of ourselves as dirt. We can think highly of ourselves, care for ourselves and make decisions that benefit me… but then we need to strive to do better than that, for others!

A huge example of this is how we disagree with others. Being able to respect other people and disagree at the sametime is a lost art in our culture today. The pervasive way to deal with conflict or disagreement is to ridicule and degrade the other person. We aren’t treating them as another valuable human who deserves to be heard just as much as I deserve to speak. I have many dear friends who have passionate views that differ greatly from mine. They can still be great friends and it opens a way of either helping me re-evaluate what I think, because maybe I’m wrong, or it will make me even more passionate about what I believe to be true! And both are very good!

A lot of the gender, race and sexuality tension and hatred can be overcome even though there are strong disagreements if people could consider others. Put yourself in their place. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. Stand up for those oppressed if you wouldn’t want to be oppressed in the same way. Both sides need to offer the same consideration.

I’m a Christian. I’m not proud of what many have said and done in the name of Christianity. Slavery is WRONG, and the “church” promoted it at one time. Woman were not valued or respected or heard. Those with non- heterosexual identity were treated in horrible ways. I’m sorry. I don’t stand behind those actions.

I, however, have views on each of these topics that I believe are consistent with what the Bible teaches. I also want to live out those beliefs with love, consideration and care from others. No matter what the topic or the issue, we will always find other people we disagree with. But how are we going to disagree? With hatred, degradation, oppression, or ridicule? No, we ought not.

Sadly that is exactly how we as a culture treat other people. As a Christian, I often feel like I can’t say exactly what I believe about different topics without knowing that I will be attacked for my beliefs. Tolerance and love are two big buzz words right now. How is attacking someone for disagreeing with you tolerance or love? If we want to change the view of others, how are we are going to do it by attacking them? We won’t be heard! By loving the other person first and caring for them as a human, only then can we talk about issues we are passionate about without trying destroy the other person.

I could go on and on, with this topic. I know I have counter cultural views. I try hard to listen and value what others believe and say even when I disagree. I would like the same value give to me in return. With each year that passes I feel less and less freedom to speak what I believe in Christian faith. There is a fear of retaliation and persecution. This should not be so.

So, all of that and I haven’t even really mentioned the book! But it does all relate! This book is a tough read. It was written in 1852 and it’s deep. Sometimes I can only get through a paragraph at a time, because it takes that long for me to be able to digest what is being written!

I started reading this book because of a few relationships I was having difficulties with. I had disagreements that I knew were affecting how I was relating to that person and how I thought about them. I was becoming angry and bitter and I didn’t want that. I wanted to love them even when I was hurt by things said or how I was treated. How can I do that?

Only by the grace of Christ.

This book calls us to a greater love. One that loves when wronged. That we see the great love given to us in Christ. That a man would die for me. That’s pretty loving! I don’t think I’ve ever been called to love someone so much that I would die. If this is the example I have to follow, there is much to learn.

Edwards states:

“We may do good to others, by furthering their outward esate or substance; or in aiding their good name, and thus promoting their esteem and acceptance among men; or by anything that may truly add to their comfort or happiness in the world, whether it be in the kind word, or the considerate and benevolent deed. And by endeavouring thus to do good to them externally, we are under the greater advantage to do good to their souls; for, when our instructions, counsels, warnings, and good examples are accompanied with such outward kindness, the latter tends to open the way for the better effect of the former, and to give them their full force, and to lead such persons to appreciate our efforts when we seek their spiritual good. And we may thus contribute to the good of others, in three ways: by giving to them of those things that they need, and we possess; by doing for them, and taking pains to help them, and promote their welfare; and by suffering for them, and aiding them to bear their burdens, and doing all in our power to make those burdens light. In each of these ways, Christianity requires us to do good to others. It requires us to give to others (Luke vi.28) – “Give and it shall be given unto you.” It requires us to do for others, and to labour for them (I Thess. ii. 9) – “For ye remember, bretheren, our labour and travail; for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God;” and Heb. vi.10 – “For God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love,” And it requires us, if need be, to suffer for others (Gal vi.2) – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ;” and 1 John iii. 16 – “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” So that, in all these ways, the Scriptures require us to do good to all.” pg 98-99

I never knew there was so much to loving others. Having humility, and seeing our station before God helps us to treat others in the same way, considering they also have the same station in relation to God. Envy… Pride… Anger…Revenge all tear down relationships and are in direct opposition to love.

I have so much to learn. I definitely think I need to re-read this book a few more times and I still won’t get the depth it has to offer.

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic! Please, I welcome your thoughts! Please love others in how you phrase your views! The whole world thanks you!

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