When things work as they should we take them for granted. But my, oh, my, how we miss them when they fail. Things like love in a marriage, joy in a friendship, peace in a nation, or health in the body tend to be assumed and presumed upon. Little care or effort is put into their maintenance until things break down. Once those qualities are hindered or missing, it takes tremendous focus and great effort to try to right the situation. This is because the most valuable portion of love, joy, peace or even health are not the ends in themselves, but are the products of actions, each of which are small expressions of the desired quality, which consistently enacted nourishes and strengthens the very thing that embodies those qualities. Love exists and grows in a relationship in which each partner gives generously to build the other partner up. Love wanes and shrivels where taking and self-focus replaces giving and cherishing the other. Qualities like joy, peace, health, and others need cultivation to prosper. The real problem is that we tend to enjoy the rewards of these things without consistent investment in caring for the relationships from which such qualities spring.

Sadly, many people are expert at wielding malignancy to the detriment of themselves and others. When we feel slighted, we fret, then we sulk, and before long we are bitter. Instead of weeding out the bitter weeds of being offended, we refuse to offer grace and forgiveness and instead sow dissension into our relationships. Peace is destroyed when we let fear have the loudest say in our hearts. Where we should have turned to God and cast our anxieties on Him, we plant our worries and water them with our doubts. Joy is the manifestation of relational and existential rightness. Joy is eclipsed when we become picky instead of thankful; perfectionists demanding things suit our preferences rather than servants of Christ seeking God’s best in all things for all persons. The health of things always depends on the care of them. Of course, sometimes things attack us from the outside and like a virus and we must fend it off, even though for a time we are ill. Even so, the general health we have at the time of the onset of illness greatly impacts the speed and likelihood of recovery.

All of this is also true regarding our spiritual life. We can experience the love, joy, peace and health of the Christian life when we tend to our relationship with God and others as Jesus modeled and taught. Whenever we put ourselves first and act selfishly we introduce ill health into our spiritual life. If we sin, then we introduce the killing power of sin. But if we cherish and devote ourselves to the spiritual practices Christ taught, we can become wellsprings of living waters. The living waters are His, but they arise and flow out of us best when our relationship to Him is closest. These spiritual practices are prayer, Bible reading, Christian partnership with accountability (church participation), acts of love and service, generosity, forgiveness, partaking of the sacraments and sharing our faith in Christ.

Cultivate the greatest things in life by surrendering to Jesus, serving others and living a holy life.

Contact Pastor Lamb at icumc@yahoo.com.