Steve Macchia Blog

Sincere love

I have a sticky note in my Bible that’s been there several years…it’s survived the test of time, and I’m glad. It’s affixed on the page adjacent to Romans 12 and it’s entitled very simply “Sincere Love.”
As I look at this as a “note to self” what I see are reminders of the life God invites me to fulfill everyday.
It’s a compilation of the many ways sincere love is expressed – and all of the words come from Romans 12: 9-18. The passage is full of invitation and affirmation: cling to good, be devoted to one another, honor one another above yourselves, keep your spiritual zeal, serve the Lord, be joyful in hope, be patient in affliction, be faithful in prayer, share with others in need, practice hospitality, bless those who persecute you, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, live in harmony, don’t be proud or conceited, and live at peace with everyone.
These are simple but powerful words of invitation…oh to love others like this. But, I’m also impressed by how endearing these are for my own soul…oh to be loved like this.
As you and I go about our days in this coming week, let me encourage you to ponder these words, make them your prayer, and practice showing sincerity of love to all who cross your path. In doing so you will reflect the sincere love that God has for you, his dearly and sincerely beloved child…for indeed you ARE loved like this!

The Imitation of Christ

I’m slowly rereading Thomas a Kempis’ classic, The Imitation of Christ. It’s impossible to read this quickly; the depth of wisdom and insight on each page is phenomenal. I’m already overwhelmed and I’m only a few chapters in.
Here are a few gems so far…the opening paragraph begins, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, saith the Lord (John 8:12). These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life and character, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ.”
A few other priceless jewels: “It is vanity to desire a long life, and to have little care for a good life…Many words satisfy not the soul, but a good life refresheth the mind, and a pure conscience giveth great confidence towards God…The proud and the avaricious man are never at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart abide in the multitude of peace…Let thy company be the humble and the simple, the devout and the gentle, and let thy discourse be concerning things which edify.”
Are you truly desirous of imitating Christ in all aspects of your life? May the words, life, and sacrificial atonement of Christ refresh, renew, and replenish your soul today and everyday. Receive the embrace of his outstretched arms of love and you’ll never be the same again…a delightful reflection of his grace, mercy, joy and peace.
PS I’ll keep you posted on more pearls of wisdom from The Imitation of Christ in upcoming blog entries.

The Greatest of these…

…is love! On this Valentine’s Day, when greeting cards, roses, chocolates and diamonds are being bought up everywhere, it’s important to realize afresh that the focus of today is not to be on cupids and gifts, but on the joyful privilege of sharing love with one another. It’s been that way since the 3rd Century when this holiday first began as a celebration of romance, courtship and marriage.

Of course I’m not opposed to gift giving, especially for our wives or girl friends (husbands or boy friends as the case may be!), but when they are given in lieu of what means the most to our loved ones, we miss out on a grand opportunity to express the gift of love in heartfelt words and deeds.

What is the language of love which makes the biggest difference for your loved one today? Is it a word of affirmation, a gentle touch, time together, an act of service, or a simple gift? Speaking the love language of our spouse or loved one is by far the best gift to share today and every day for that matter.

Will you choose to be a bearer of gifts for your sweetheart? Then remember that the greatest gift of all may not look like a chocolate or a diamond (as wonderful as they are!), but instead may look more like pure love. That’s the greatest gift of all.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13: 4-8a).

When I, Me and My Matter Most

How ironic that today I’m facilitating a leadership development session with a church leadership team on the subject of Conflict Resolution…and the psalm of the week in our prayer guide is Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me…blot out my transgression…wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…against you, you only, have I sinned…wash me and I will be whiter than snow…let me hear joy and gladness. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
When the words I, me, and my matter most is when I am willing to be broken before God and others I have hurt, disappointed, or am in conflict with. In this psalm it’s King David who finally comes clean of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the resulting sins of deception, murder and injustice. It took Nathan the prophet to expose his true heart, but thankfully David responds with a contrite spirit and seeks forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation with God.
When we are finally willing to own up to our sinfulness, brokenness and desperate need for forgiveness, we can’t help but use the words I, me and my…no more finger pointing allowed.
Want to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor (spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend, colleague) as yourself?
There’s redemptive power in the phrases “I’m sorry” “I was wrong” “Please forgive me” and “I love you.”
Use the proper pronouns and you’ll be well on the way toward meaningful conflict resolution…and ever enriching relationships with God and those you love the most.