Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

There are times in life when it is right to search one’s heart and ask the Spirit of God to show me where I need to grow. These times are sometimes precipitated by a crisis – such as a death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or an incident at church or at home, or simply just over-work and tiredness.

Often we can respond to this situation by casting blame; on God for His apparent loss of control or lack of power over circumstance, or on the brother or sister involved in the incident or a family member. This is usually accompanied by the careful rehearsing and wallowing in self-justifying arguments.

Another response is to foster a sense of guilt. Thoughts with the tag – “Oh, if only I had …” – run through our minds and we can find ourselves in a critical mode that saps our spirit and depresses our hearts. Through this and the response above we can end up isolating ourselves from God.

While many of these processes are natural and possibly need to be experienced as a process of evaluating our relationship with God, they must not be where we stop. There is, when we are ready – a step further.

The Apostle John, in the third chapter of his first epistle, gives us practical and sound advice.

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly; living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” [The MESSAGE]

This is the season when opportunities for practicing real love abound – whether it be for the neighbour we have not had time all year to visit, or the AIDS orphan in Africa, or the church member we need to put things right with, or the oft forgotten elderly person in a lonely nursing home, or the beggar on our streets, or your heavy laden postie, or your prodigal son or daughter. Every person becomes an opportunity.

May this Christmas bless you with a heart blessed by living in God’s reality.