“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
We come now to the fifth and final “stance” in Christian Martial Arts – “love.” Love is a primary theme in the Bible, but how does that relate to martial arts?
My first lesson in a martial arts class was about showing respect to my teacher and fellow students. We did a lot of bowing from both sitting, kneeling and standing positions. Students bowed to Sensei and Sempai at the beginning and end of every class. Students bowed to each other at the beginning and end of partner drills. We bowed to each other before and after sparring. It became obvious to me quickly that respect was of utmost importance before, during and after class.
I didn’t think about respect in class as demonstrating love until I became a Christian. Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) Jesus went so far as to say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45) Jesus also told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:33-35)
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” … “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13)
God does not leave room for Christians to define love in ways that are easy to accomplish. He has His own definition and it’s tough, very tough to do. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. ” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Which sounds tougher to you: martial arts training or living for God according to His definition? Having done both for the greater part of my life, I believe Christian living is more difficult than martial arts. So, why do it? Think about it. How long will your martial arts training last? I began at the age of 13. If I am able to train until I’m 103, that would be 90 years in martial arts. I became a Christian at 23. I’ll still be a Christian a billion years from now and just getting started on eternity. Which training system do you think is more important to me? Which one is more important to you?
The 5th stance in Christian martial arts is the final step, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least important. It’s the most important step. Anything else we do fails if we do not have love. So, “Let all that you do be done with love.” That’s everything: family, work, play, church, Bible study, witnessing, martial arts, everything. Let it all be done with love.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”