When I was a kid, I remember my dad teaching my brothers and I how to place-kick a football. He taught us how to step the distance off from the tee, and how to stand before the kick-off. At first we would rush ahead of his instructions and charge to the tee only to have the ball roll harmlessly out of bounds about 20 yards downfield, or in a few cases, sit idly in the tee as our kicking foot swung wildly at thin air.
What we had not yet learned was the proper steps. The first 2 steps couldn’t be too far apart, or we’d overstep the ball. The third step had to be planted just right to allow the kicking foot a full follow through. Stride too long, and we had to pull our foot in to make contact; stride too short, and we were lucky to touch the ball at all!
For the new believer in Christ, charity is a quality that the older brethren wield like a baton at halftime. They seem to always be giving, always be sacrificing, and always encouraging others to do so. It comes so natural to one mature in the Lord… but is that any surprise?
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” says the Book. Those elders in the Lord did not reach the landing at the top of the stairs by JUMPING past the stairs to the top. They climbed each one, and in the practice of repeated steps they show us how to walk with the Lord.
Charity is the gift of love, the loving giver, and the lover of the receiver. It is that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. It was shown at Christ’s birth, by the angels announcement:“Good will toward men.” It was demonstrated thru his life, in that he “went about doing good.” And in his death it was displayed when Jesus “gave his life a ransom for all.”
Paul said that without charity he was nothing. Is is any wonder why the loving heart after God’s own heart becomes the ‘holy grail’ of Christian living? And is it any wonder why such an achievement is often so disheartening, and many trip all over themselves wondering why it’s so hard to love with charity? It is hard, that’s why!
Charity is not the first step, it is the final step. Without faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, and brotherly kindness it is virtually impossible to attain to the greatest of all characteristics.
Remember that Peanut’s comic strip, where Lucy convinces Charlie Brown she will hold the football while he kicks it? Every time he doubts her sincerity, but every time lands him flat on his back.
I think that’s how many ill-paced, self-trusting believers feel when they overstep God’s leading. Christ leads simply, one step at a time. He leads surely, just one step at a time. He leads directly in God’s favour to a desired end.
Where are you standing in life? Has your faith grown to virtue, knowledge,and temperance? Have you made strides toward loving God before others? Does your godliness urge you to be kind toward the saved and to the unbelievers?
There is just ONE needful step that you must take, before all others: The next one.