August 13, 2017
He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. – 1 John 4:16
The word magnanimous refers to well-intentioned kindness or courteous consideration, given equally to everyone as a matter of principle. It is a big word. Just so is the size of the heart and spirit of the individual who possess this wonderful grace.
During World War II, a young man from our church was inducted into the United States Army. As part of basic training, he and a group of soldiers had to hike for many miles. When they arrived back at their camp, they were completely exhausted. However, the recruit from our church still took time to kneel beside his bunk in prayer before he went to bed. A fellow recruit was so angered by this that he threw his boots at the young Christian. In the morning, those boots were by his bunk, shined and polished to perfection. It was quite an act of magnanimity, and a powerful witness to every soldier in the room!
Showing love to people who are kind is not very difficult, but the challenge comes when we try to love those who seem egotistical or mean. We must remember that without God’s Spirit, the heart is prideful and selfish by nature. To expect a person to measure up to the standard of God’s love without a change of heart is simply to mock the impotence of the unregenerate heart. If we want to help that person change and experience the same grace we have received, we would do well to show some magnanimity.
The virtue of magnanimity cannot be gained by human endeavor, because it will always fall short of the standard exemplified by our Lord Jesus: “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). The focus verse makes clear that only through communion with God—by dwelling in Him—does He impart this love to us, and then it will be displayed naturally in our actions to those around us.
No one had ever set a precedent for that young Christian soldier to follow when he decided to polish the boots of a disagreeable comrade. This was simply the outcome of having a sincere love in his heart for all men, a love which can only come from God. Such is the grace of magnanimity; may we all seek to obtain this virtue.