(I Thessalonians 5:8)
Rev. Sergio Arevalo, Jr.
Shepherd of the Hills UMC
Monterey Park, CA
February 14, 2010
TEXT: “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
The Apostle Paul was talking about the coming of the Lord or shall we say the D-Day! He advised the Thessalonians to be always ready since the coming of the Lord is like a thief in the night, and he even encouraged them to be “sober” and watchful, and be like soldiers wearing the breastplates of faith and love, and the helmets of salvation.
I am not going to discuss the whole doctrine of eschatology (study of last things), and since today is St. Valentine’s Day, it is but proper to study love. What’s love? Every man has his own definition of love.
Jules Renard says “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.”
“Love is,” James Dewar says, “an ocean of emotions, entirely surrounded by expenses.”
W. Somerset Maugham says “Love is what happens to a man and a woman who don’t know each other.”
However, the Apostle Paul explained love in this way:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Cor. 13:1-13, NKJV).
From the definition of the Apostle Paul, love is:
- Patient or Long suffering
- Not envious
- Not boastful or arrogant
- Not irritable or resentful
- Rejoices in the truth and hates wrongdoing
- Bears all things
- Believes all things
- Hope all things
- Endures all things
- Never fails
A BREASTPLATE SERVES AS PROTECTION
The Apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to wear the breastplate of love. Paul thought that a Christian is like a soldier who wears breastplate and helmet in war. In our modern time, soldiers are wearing bullet proof vest and helmet. Breastplate or bullet proof vest could protect the soldiers from the enemies’ sword or bullets. Soldiers with breastplate or bulletproof vest have the high percentage of protection and survival.
Most probably, Paul thought that Christians would encounter “wars” in their lives that’s why he wrote to put on the breastplate of faith and love. Christians who have breastplates would have high percentage of protection and survival in this cruel and challenging world.
Richard Jeni says, “It’s sad fact that fifty percent of marriages in this country end in divorce. But, hey, the other half end in death. You could be one of the lucky ones!”
It’s true that divorce has high percentage in the USA nowadays. There are many reasons why, but I believe if every family has love in their homes, divorce might be limited. Since love will protect the family and relationship. A family with prevailing love will have trust with one another, kind with one another, endures the challenges and problems, and has long suffering.
Let me tell you an example of a relationship with no love.
A traveler went to into an undiscovered tomb for the first time, and in the center of the tomb there was a lamp. So he picked it up and as he started to rub the dirt off it, a genie came out of the lamp and said, “I want to know the person you hate most.”
The traveler said, “That’s gotta be my wife. Why?”
“I am a cursed genie. I will grant you three wishes, but whatever you wish for your wife will get double the amount.”
“Okay, I wish for a billion dollars.”
“Granted, but your wife gets two billion dollars.”
“I wish for a mansion in Beverly Hills with a swimming pool, and tennis courts, everything.”
“Granted, and your wife gets two. Now make your final wish.”
The traveler walked around for few minutes, returned to the genie with a stick and said, “You see this stick, I’d like you to beat me half to death.”
A BREASTPLATE PROLONGS LIFE AND SERVICE
Christians with breastplates have high percentage of longer service to other people. Imagine a soldier with bullet proof and a soldier without bullet proof in the midst of war. Soldier with bullet proof is more protected than the one who has no protection. Thus, a protected soldier could serve longer.
In other illustration, love is like a battery of the mobile phone. When a battery is fully charged, it could be used for longer time.
Is it not that we need to be fully charged when we experience problems in life? We need love in this world of hate, war, corruptions, separations, and poverty. We need to share love in order to share hope.
Adam Clark was one of the great theologians but at school he was very slow to learn. One day a distinguished visitor paid a visit to the school, and the teacher singled out Adam Clark and said, “That is the stupidest boy in the school.” Before he left the school, the visitor came to the boy and said kindly, “Never mind, my boy, you may be a great scholar some day. Don’t be discouraged but try hard, and keep on trying.” The teacher was hopeless, the visitor was hopeful, and–who knows?–it may well have been that word of hope which made Adam Clark what he one day became (Barclay).
In our world nowadays, we need more people who would share love to the loveless, and hope to the hopeless. People who would inspire others to go on in life and love others.
A BREASTPLATE ENCOURAGES BRAVERY
A soldier with bulletproof vest is more brave than those who have no protection. Since unprotected soldier would worry about his own life—generally speaking. A man with love will think the welfare of others while a man without love will think of himself alone. A man without love is selfish and a man with love is self less.
I got this story from a magazine.
In Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945 the Enola Gay arrived overhead at 8:15 a.m. and released its solitary bomb. Shizuko Yamasaki was at home with her toddler son. People near ground zero were vaporized – about 80,000 died instantly – and most of the city simply ceased to exist.
It was a very hot day when Shizuko came out of an air-raid shelter with her 2-year old son, Atsunori. A little before 8 in the morning, they hurriedly back to their old wooden house. She was just about to give her son a bowl of rice when rays of strange bluish and whitish color came in through the kitchen window, brushed her right cheek and hit Atsunori right in the eyes. She held him tight to her bosom as the house was lifted and moved by the blast.
By the grace of the Lord, Shizuko and her son survived that incident, however, their hair began to fall out and Atsunori developed a serious bleeding problem that continued for years to come. When he was in fifth grade he was diagnosed by doctors, they found out that he acquired “A bomb” cataract. He had undergone operation but his eyes remained weak. He later forced to attend school for the blind. In the early 80’s Atsunori began to have serious problems with walking and talking. Doctors said it was due to a cerebellum disorder. His condition has been deteriorating since then.
As for Shizuko, she has undergone about 10 operations starting in 1958. She said, “I am getting old, but I cannot die yet. How can I have my son behind the way he is?” Indeed, Shizuko, a mother refused to die because of her love and care for her son.
In this modern time, we need more people who would share love. You could share love to your unapproachable neighbors. You can share love to your antagonistic classmates. You could share love to your unlovable fellow employees. You can share love to your hated politicians. You can share love to your family and friends. Are you in or out?