19 May 2017
The apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:
‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’
The party left and went down to Antioch, where they summoned the whole community and delivered the letter. The community read it and were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.’
“A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends”
In 2006, I received a call from my father. He had been living in Taiwan for about 30 years and had not been a frequent participant in my life. He had asked me to visit him in Taiwan.
I saw my father some time later when I visited him and he finally told me the purpose for his wanting to see me; he was dying and asked if I could take care of my half sister when he finally passed on.
Unbeknownst to him, my father’s friend had spoken to me much earlier, and had asked me the same question before that. Because of this particular call, I could not sleep for a few weeks as my wife and I pondered the question.
Ultimately, it was difficult for me to turn down his request. You see, when I was a month old, my grandaunt had been asked the same question. Only thing is, I was the one whom she had been tasked to take care of. Despite the fact that our biological relationship was so distant, she did not hesitate when asked, and I ended up living with her for over 30 years. In fact, she did so much more for me; becoming both father and mother to me in my growing years.
In the same vein, by dying for us, Jesus paid the ultimate price and made the ultimate sacrifice, and paid it forward for us to do the same. How can we not do that? If we choose not to do the right thing, do we not become somewhat like the unmerciful servant found in Matthew 18:24-25?
Because of the precious gift of salvation and love from our Lord, our lives are no longer our own. The challenge is in recognizing and fulfilling this in our daily walk. We pray that our Lord may give us the eyes and spirit to recognize the opportunities for us to do so.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – In choosing to die for us dear Jesus, You have shown us the way we should live and treat each other. Help us to be open to the opportunities to share this same spirit with others.
Thanksgiving – Thank You for being our model, Lord Jesus. No matter what kind of personal history we each possess, thank You for the infinite love that You have for us