By KEVIN GREGORY
(Editor's note: After Kevin Gregory won the Rotary Club of Mineral Wells' Four-Way Test speech contest last week, the Index invited him to submit his text for publication. The Mineral Wells High School senior plans to attend Southwestern University, in Georgetown next year and, afterwards, enroll in seminary to become ordained in the United Methodist Church.)
"We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up." (1 Corinthians 8:1 CEB)
Back in September I was at a meeting for the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Council on Youth Ministry, or CCYM for short – we Methodists tend to have a lot of acronyms.
Anyway, during the meeting we were discussing how to live like Jesus, an admirable goal I think. It was our devotional before we got down to business. How do you show love to everyone? How do you be like Jesus?
One of my friends, Dan Coleman, was sitting next to me and, I don't know if he did it to be funny or if he was being serious, but, he just blurted out, “You just do.”
We all sort of laughed and shrugged it off. Jokingly, we dubbed it “The Coleman Doctrine” and went on with the meeting. It was a funny moment, but the more I began to think about it the more I realized how right Dan was. We should just do, just love and the world would be drastically changed.
Tonight we're here to discuss the Rotary Club Four-Way Test – what it means, it's applications. The test states:
Of all the things we think, say or do:
• Is it the truth?
• Is it fair to all concerned?
• Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
• And will it be beneficial to all concerned?
But I feel like we're asking too many questions. We're overlooking the bigger question, the one that comes before the test. So let me restate this:
Of all the things we think, say, or do: Are we doing it with love? That's the question. Are we seeking the truth for the betterment of society or for our own personal gain? Is it fair to everyone, to every person concerned, or just the ones we're thinking about? Can it build goodwill and better friendships, but also, can it sustain those relationships? Is it truly beneficial to everyone, or are we excluding those that society has told us don't matter? Are we doing it with love?
1 Corinthians 13 paraphrased in the language of “The Message” translation says:
"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, 'Jump,' and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always 'me first,' doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." (1 Corinthians 13:1-10, 13 MSG)
The Four-Way Test is important. The principles for which it stands are sound, but if we fail to focus ourselves around love and center our actions around that principle, we are doing this world, and ourselves, a disservice.
President Woodrow Wilson once said: “You are not merely here to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
When we forget to love, to just do, the Four-Way Test has no meaning. We've construed it into something meant for personal gain, not the intentional development of the society we live in. If we live with love, then our actions will inspire those around us and the Four-Way Test is a shining example of our undertaking as humans to better the world.