I don’t remember the day but it was early and cold, bitterly cold with no wind at all. The kind of morning that covers windows with frost, freezes fingers and makes one dream of warmer places. My wife and I were leaving for a weekend getaway, stopping by her Mom and Dads to say goodbye for five minutes. Five minutes turned into thirty. Knowing the windows would be frosted over I told my wife I would start the car and scrape the windows.
After putting on my heaviest winter coat and leather gloves I walked outside to find our little Chevy Chevette running with the windows scraped. I knew right away who had done that for us and why. My father-in-law Charlie, the greatest Christian I have ever known.
Charlie was never famous or looked on as a leader in the church. He was not an ordained minister and to the best of my knowledge never desired to be a preacher. But in the truest definition of the word he was certainly a minister.
Merriam-Webster defines minister as primarily a noun, secondarily as a verb:
1 : to function as a minister of religion
2 : to give aid or service (minister to the sick)
If I have learned anything from watching my father-in-law it is that minister is not a noun or “to function as a minister of religion”, it is to give aid or service. And not just to the sick. Giving to others is the best way we have to share the love of Christ. Like love, minister is a verb.
The Greatest of These is Love
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I Corinthians 13:13
Four words translated as Love; Agape, Eros, Storge and Philia. Eros expresses physical love and is the root of eroticism. Storge describes the love between family members. Philia more closely resembles friendship based on mutual interests.
Agape is love for others without strings or expectations. When Charlie started our car and scraped the windows he did it simply because it made life better for someone else. Without a degree in theology he understood that helping others was the crux of the message Jesus gave us. That God is not in a sermon or how you look and act but in what we do for others. That was the kind of man and Christian he was, the kind of person I want to be.
Charlie has passed from us and gone on to eternal selfless love. And even though it’s been over thirty years I still remember the bitter cold morning, a warm car and clear windows. And the response to my heartfelt thank you – “you’re welcome but I didn’t do anything special, just trying to help out”.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV)\