We live in a world where it is impossible not to hurt other people. But the net balance is measured according to the amount of love distributed to those, whom the person would have been engaged with. Jesus was the true example of exercising love, and yet many people were offended by Him, more than they benefited from Him. Each working day is associated with activities, intended to serve other people.
A business enterprise not established to serve people is as good as dead. In a bamboozled environment, people assume that the purpose of engaging in business is making money. Any business can be established with pomp and fanfare. But it becomes a cropper, as long as its intention is to make money, rather than serve the needs of humanity.
The false datum is in assuming that accumulating money for oneself is the only purpose of living. Indeed, influential people are judged by how many possessions they have. With affluence at one’s disposal, one’s word is considered valuable and applied accordingly. Brilliant ideas could come from poor people but cannot be considered meritoriously, as long as initiated from a condition of poverty.
The idea of wealth accumulation has impoverished the entire country of Zimbabwe. Corruption has been normalized, as driven by the philosophy of enhancing individual economic conditions. People of affluence are those driving modern vehicles and living in ostentatious suburbs. A person is said to be successful, as long as possessing high levels of wealth.
The idea of questioning the source of acquired wealth is considered taboo. We live in a country where each person is entitled to conduct his/her life privately. Ethics are relegated to levels of insignificance. Politics has been the easiest vehicle to gain access to wealth. The naïve populace gets manipulated to support the status quo, where ethics are considered old-fashioned.
Ethical businesses have no place in our country. When a person pronounces being busy, he/she means manipulating schemes that bring income. Bank robbers are also considered involved in producing income for livingness. The bottom line is the acquisition of income, regardless of whether ethical or unethically obtained. Whether anyone likes to hear about it or not, Jesus remains the only standard on exercising matters of survival.
The works of Jesus are catalogued in a very short lifespan, approximately two millennia ago. He never sought to enrich Himself but was committed to serving other people. This was unfashionable, but displaying what it takes to attain redemption from a deadly condition. He was mocked for not serving His interest, by a convicted criminal, wired in the mindset of self-centeredness. “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”(Luke 23:39).
That criminal was well on point, depicting what is considered normal in this world. The fixation has always been on what the person does for himself. The idea of saving other people does not have room in the mindsets of corrupted societies. The most difficult thing in such an environment is to love people.
There is no doubt that one can be killed for loving other people. Many are the people incarcerated for advocating loving other people. A person, who seeks to love other people rather than himself, is considered abnormal. How can a truly loving individual survive under such conditions? There is no need to despair, as life is not found in physical matter.
Life is generated by what one does for other people. The criminal who hurled insults at Jesus could not fathom exercising the only route towards life. Jesus had to lose His physical life for humanity to access life. This is the hidden secret unknown to a corrupt world, but projecting a formula for redemption.
“And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”(Matthew 10:38-39 NIV).
The aspect of carrying one’s cross is detrimental to self but beneficial to other people. That is the only way one gains own life. Unless crafted to understand this reality, all purposes of living are futile. While disappointing, to be mocked by those that one intends to save, it portrays the only philosophy towards attaining life. Self-denial for the sake of other people is beneficial to oneself.
What can one do, in an environment that makes it impossible to practice such a philosophy? This happens to be the only reason Jesus declared being the way, the truth and the life. Everyone deserted Him at the cross, which He never sought to avoid. Mockers continue to hurl insults at Him. How could He subject His own life to ungrateful humanity?
Exercising love is not a guarantee to obtaining adulation from beneficiaries. It also does not guarantee being awarded a place of honour. But, blessed are those whose love cannot be noticed in this world, as counted worthy to be at the same level with Jesus. Doing good was never intended for receiving accolades in this world. As long as one seeks accolades, one invalidates the purpose of serving.
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness before me, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”(Matthew 6:1-4 NIV).
Those in business, for making money would be perplexed by this statement. In business circles, this is considered reckless. How can one expend money, where there would be no reward, except the risk of being ridiculed for helping? While love is meant to be unconditional, the ones described as hypocrites, have made it conditional. In this world, a person remains without support, as long as advocating for unconditional love.
However, according to Jesus, it is better to lose everything, than aim to be rewarded for doing what is good. Jesus recommended many things for His disciples, hinging on exercising unconditional love. The greatest saints that prevail are those not heralded for exercising charity in this world but having died silently; exercising such acts of righteousness.
The unconditional route of love rarely receives any commendation in this world. The acts of righteousness do not aim at receiving gratitude from beneficiaries. The righteous conducts are Godly performances, through those, having become willing to be used as instruments. The same Jesus, who was mocked at the cross, is the same Jesus being ridiculed, in the lives of His followers.
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (Matthew 15:19-21 NIV).
These words cannot make sense to ordinary people. One may find it reasonable to question the purpose if mocked by the same people that the person would be trying to serve. The answer is death, projected in physical living conditions. That death is spiritual, as pronounced to Adam, after having eaten the forbidden fruit.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17 KJV).
Guided by the infallibility of God’s word, we know that Adam died on the same day after eating the forbidden fruit. However, that death is different from the death, commonly experienced today. It is symbolized by disconnecting from the source of life, which implies Spiritual death.
Remember, humanity was created in God’s image, meaning that humanity and God were meant to be one. Others seek to reason out the logic where one person’s decision affects the entire humanity, although commonly known in our time. We are the effects of the wrongs, committed by our forefathers.
Whatever the Chimurenga sins; by those claiming to have fought for our liberation, affects the progenies of those fighters. Call it ‘Ngozi” or whatever, the wrong things committed; are meant to be repaid by those living today.
The price is irreparably expensive as the death penalty pronounced on Adam was irrevocable. Thank God Almighty; there is a way out of that condition of enslavement. The route may not be attractive and easy, as recommended by the Master of our salvation, but it leads to life, nevertheless.
Several other formulas have been projected. Hard work; Wealth accumulation and many more; but nothing is as effective as was recommended by Jesus. The precise definition of terms is of vital importance if errors of losing the precious gift can be avoided.
The most crucial of those terms is “Love.” What is love? Jesus demonstrated that love is a provision that remains forever; so that it cannot be affected by other circumstantial conditions. However, the apostle Paul provided its clinical definition, to facilitate comprehension.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears” (1 Corinthians 13:4-10 NIV).
The definition may not be adequate, but gives a glimpse of what can be workable in our human frailties. When applying the prescribed conditions, one could effectively reach a workable standard. However, reaching that standard can be impossible without self-denial. Hence, Jesus said for one to be among His followers, one had to leave everything, including his own relatives.
The telling description is that “Love never fails.” We hear of many people regretting having done good things to those later turning up against them. The person regretting would have not exercised love according to the prescription. There are many charitable activities out in the world. It cannot be difficult to tell who would be exercising love and who would not.
Jesus said; if exercising love is to be seen by men, that love would be hypocrisy. This implies being pretentious, rather than practising true love. No one living in this world can claim not to be guilty of pretentious love. Even when growing up as young children, we seek to please our parents. Being praised in whatever we do encourages us to excel in that activity, but that would not be exercising true love.
Expected of Christians, are those things done for ungrateful humanity, more than those done for our own survival. The minimum balance is whether one would have served for the betterment of other fellow humans or not. Life is too short and no one can predict the day that one’s life comes to an end.
It can only be deep inside one’s conscience, to check whether effectively feeling satisfied; having done what enhances humanity’s livelihood, or not. Anything else is nothing but vanity. The measuring yardstick is considered to be the ability to love one’s enemies. Conversely, the failing condition is depicted in the inability to meet that challenge.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect(Matthew 5:43-48 NIV).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99