Excerpts of Testimonies of Course Students (II) (Edited)

I Must Love My Family (ET)
Often, I acknowledge that it is hardest to express love in the family. It is hardest to love the people closest to you, those whom we interact with the most and live with the longest. As the saying goes, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. We usually take our loved ones for granted and show them our worst sides. We are careless with our words when speaking with them, inconsiderate in our actions and insensitive in our behaviour. Our carnal and sinful selves are expressed most at home in private and it ironically stands in stark contrast to our public façade. This is something which has pricked my conscience for a long time. I find myself showing my worst side at home, be it in word or deed. I am more likely to hold a grudge and be resentful against my family members. I am more inclined to be uncourteous and brash towards them. While misunderstandings, disagreements and quarrels are bound to happen in this mortal flesh, we as born-again believers must arise to resist such fleshly impulses. We who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit can have the divine enablement to forgive unconditionally and unceasingly. As Christ instructed Peter, we ought to forgive not only seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). At home, one often experiences hurt caused by the insensitivity and unkindness of our loved ones. The home is also the best place to practice our faith and to show our Christian testimony. For those closest to us, they will be the first to recognise any changes in our conduct and speech. This can be seen in a gentle disposition, sensitivity to another’s pain and longsuffering towards another person’s quirks or idiosyncrasies. Daily, we are being moulded increasingly to the image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Daily opportunities present themselves for us to do a good deed for our Saviour and to extend care and concern to one another.

I Must Love My Family II (CK)
God worked providentially so that my love for my family and neighbours was tested during the past two weeks. The toils of parenthood reached a new high (or deep low) when the talkative, persistent, insistent, assertive natures of both my toddler son and little daughter bore out unrelentingly. Their wails and whines, their wilful disobedience, deliberately or ignorantly (too young to fully understand instructions), coupled with the daily stress of ministry, studies and other familial commitments, did no good to a tired and weary mind. I felt emotionally drained, and when emotions rose, it was usually impatience, frustration not only at my kids but at my wife and at everything else ‘in the world’. I lost my cool at home and in public spaces. There was hardly any love. I rebuked and applied the rod of correction but mostly out of frustrated anger than loving anger. I went to bed upset, tossed and turned in my sleep and woke up upset. My love for God suffered, the love for ministry and studies also waned and the love for God’s people and my family had weakened.

The final weeks’ lessons, which took a very practical slant, were God’s providential rod of correction for me. It reminded me of a need to exercise greater restrain, that love must be longsuffering, meek and temperate. That love must be exercised with forgiveness, for misunderstandings and disagreements are bound to occur.

Finally, when all solutions were exhausted, I could turn to no other than to God in prayer, which turned my eyes to His love and the need to love. The trials have not departed nor were the solutions to problems found. But where problems abound, let love be found. I have tried, in the days leading up to the final examination, to exercise greater love to my family and have found that my family responds better when the same is spoken in love; meals are certainly more tasty where the family eats in love (Prov 15:17). Sin remains and so are my weaknesses. But the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that I might love one another, even my enemies and to do so in humble and loving obedience to my Saviour’s commands.

My Struggle to Love (NC)
After we had moved on to the lectures concerning the love of Christ for God the Father, I was reminded of how Christ showed His love for God the Father by His active and passive obedience in keeping the law and fulfilling all the tasks that He was required to do on earth. Likewise, Christ also loved us so much that He was willing to condescend Himself as a human being on earth and to die for our sins on the cross. As such, I must remember, when Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” There is this daily struggle that I have where I have to surrender myself and my earthly desires and to remember my duty to take up my cross and to keep His commandments. Additionally, I must remember that I should also be doing all these willingly and out of loving obedience and not out of an unwilling spirit. In fact, in the later lectures on the duties expected of Christians, one of the statements in the lecture stood out to me – that I must have full devotion to God – our entire disposition must be dedicated to Him, our heart, soul, mind and strength. This means everything which I do in church, in my spare time, to do it all in devotion to God. This is definitely something that I should work. It is definitely a sober reminder.

It is a reminder that still needs to be drilled into my head, that no man can serve two masters, it is either God or mammon or God or another idol in my heart. If there is anything in my life that is hindering my walk, my service to God and my Christian testimony, then I should cut it out of my life. I must admit that there may be some things in my life that are definitely hindering or taking too much time away from Him. I pray that the Lord will give me the wisdom to recognise them and to give me the strength and grace to yield to the Holy Spirit and not to the flesh as well as to be able to re-align my life’s priorities. Clearly, if I can’t even love God wholeheartedly in my own personal walk with Him, how can I exemplify godly, Christ-like love to others. There will also be times where God will allow me to be tested with trials and tribulations. Will I continue to show love for Him in these times?

Beware of Popular “Theology”
Another thing which I have realized is that the fact that Christians have to be commanded to love, shows how unnatural it is for man to do so. Yet, it must be the characteristic of the Christian. What is natural for man instead is to envy, be unforgiving and seek revenge. I often watch advertisements of Korean dramas that are very popular because of how the main character was able to avenge all those who had bullied and taken advantage of them. People love watching it because it is so satisfying to watch revenge being taken on those who had done evil. This ideology is dangerously entering churches too. There are many churches which have split not because of doctrinal disagreements but due to personal conflicts. However, as Christians who are given the ability to love, we must truly apply and practice biblical love.

It is indeed true that the whole concept of love for the world is sentimental, sensual and sexual. When I was in my teens, I would secretly listen to worldly songs, which would give me an unrealistic and false perception of what love is. Though I may have stopped doing so, I do realise that some of the ideas are still affecting the way I think at times. A lot of it also made me realize that the love defined by the world is a selfish love. It is ‘love’ which focuses on what one can get out of a relationship. Giving is not a common notion. And when one is not satisfied or do not receive what they want in the relationship, they break up or divorce. This is why the divorce rate is so high. Their idea of love is so flimsy. Relationships can be broken easily once one is not satisfied. That is why Christians, including myself, ought to fill our minds and hearts with the Word of God, so that we do not get affected and influenced by what the world dictates.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew