A Spiritual Plumb

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us - and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us, for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. 1 John 3: 16-24 (NRSV)

Domingos Jose Cazombo lives in Luanda, Angola. When he was a teenager, his father often took him to help him in his trade, bricklaying. While helping his father, the instruments that most fascinated Domingos were the plumb and the level. A plumb is a type of pendulum, and a level is a kind of ruler with a reservoir filled with liquid. The plumb was used to make sure the wall was aligned vertically and the level to make sure it was aligned horizontally.

Both instruments are crucial in determining the alignment of a house or wall. A structure must have good vertical and horizontal alignments in order to remain standing for a long time. If either alignment is ignored, a structure cannot withstand temperature changes, strong winds, or water.

We can think about our relationships in similar terms. Our relationship with God shapes the kind of relationships we have with others. And we need a spiritual plumb and level to help us remain in right relationship with God and others. The word of God, prayer, and remaining in communion with Christ act as our plumb and level and help keep us aligned.

Prayer: Blessed God, we recognize your call to love our neighbors. Help us to see you in those around us and to strengthen our relationship with others and with You, in Jesus' name, amen.

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