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Spread a little love with a smile

"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out!' Beware of destroying one another."  Galatians 5:13-15

How is that neighborly love going for you? It's hard isn't it? Sure we live in freedom, but most of the time it's our selfish freedom that we live in. It isn't about serving God and our neighbor. It's about feeding our own hungry flesh. I suppose to begin, we can't very well love our neighbor if we can't even love our self. Doesn't that pretty much sum it all up? Or should it be that we cannot love, truly love another, unless we have love for the Lord?

Some might say, "Well, if we love ourselves, isn't that selfish?" Of course not. God created us in His image. The Holy Spirit lives within us. We are to love ourselves and walk humbly with God, showing mercy and love to all those we meet. Micah 6:8

If we don't love ourselves we can't very well expect others to love us.When I am driving alone I always take advantage of that time and spend it with the Lord. I love turning up the radio and just allowing my heart to be impacted by His message. During my driving time I tend to look over at others. Have you ever noticed how unhappy people are? As they drive they seem to have this look of anger on their face as if they are infuriated they are even in a car. We can be in line at the market and you don't even have to glance around, your ears hear everything. You hear mothers screaming at their children, children yelling at the top of their lungs as their fathers stand with a look of horror. People are just not happy. Our neighbors are not happy people. Why? We can get so caught up in our circumstances, that everything else seems empty.

"Jesus replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first commandment. A second commandment is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'" Matthew 22:37-40

You know that laughing game? One person will begin laughing. Making themselves laugh and then soon another catches on and before you know it the whole room is in deep genuine laughter. All it takes is one person. You can be that one person. While checking out at JC Penney's a few days ago, I walked up to hand the cashier my purchases and she looked downright horrible. I mean her frown could have touched the ground. I looked at her and said, "You have the cutest hair cut!" At first she looked at me like, "Are you talking to me?" Then I again told her, "It looks really good on you." It was then that she smiled and gave her thanks. She may have woke that morning with burdens beating her down, and carried them to work with her, but all it took was one person reaching out to make her smile.

Sometimes I am that person driving in that car with tears streaming down my face. Sometimes I am that girl walking through the store on a mission. Let me get in and get out without running into anyone. Been there? Instead of seeing the Lord we see the pile of bills on the counter that needs paid. Instead of seeing the blessings before us we see the illness that has struck our mother. We see the disaster that surrounds our family, only praying it will heal. We feel the fear of tomorrow weighing us down. When we focus on the bad, bad is going to show up. Meaning if we focus on the Lord, we are going to know those circumstances are there, but in faith we know God is going to work them out. We know that He is in control of the situation. We leave it in His hands and trust Him. In faith we can see the clouds parting. We can see the shimmer of the sun. We can take those raindrops and know after the shower a glorious portrait is going to appear. A portrait of promise. If we focus on the bad, that is all we are going to see. More bad will be around the corner. Why? Because we now expect it. We never see the rainbow because we are never on the other side of the clouds.

Just like that person who begins the laughing game, we must make a choice. Either we get caught up in the sorrow around us or we grab hold of the blessings. It's our choice. We are free. Do you understand that? Freedom is for us to live, not to dwell in sadness of yesterdays mistakes or tomorrows worries. It's not for us to live in today's selfish pride. It is to serve our King of kings with hope. It is to give with a smile and love with grace. As we take each day we have a choice to make the best of it or to let it end in anger. Oh, how bitterness and rage can eat us alive. Sure, we have all had those pity parties. We send out invites, but no one wants to come. No one wants to be around a Debbie Downer. We want Sunshine Sally to enter the room and give us the okay to smile. That one person making a choice to live freely.

We can smile as our cashier hands us our groceries. We can ask our post master, "As I pray today, is there anything I could add for you?", as she hands us our stamps. We might just shock that frown right off her face. She may say, "No, but thanks." But I guarantee she will think upon those words throughout the day. That kindness will carry over. While at a restaurant why not say hello to those who pass by. We walk through life as though we have blinders on. We are ME sighted. That being a little short sighted and far sighted too. We only see the distance where we are standing and where we are going. Everything else we need glasses for. Isn't that a sad way to spend our freedom? We are not in bondage of sin. God took care of that on the cross for us. We are not in chains of slavery. God set us free. He wants us to live each moment in the freedom that His Son died for.

We can either lead others to Christ or lead them away. It all has to do with how we treat others. Our neighbors. Be the neighbor you want living next to you. Be the neighbor you want sitting next to you in church. We are Christ's hands and feet in this world. That is a pretty special appointment He has for us. Don't you think?

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." Galatians 5:22-23a

"Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." Galatians 6:2-3

It all comes back to the love of Christ. He loved us enough to give His life for us. That makes us important to Him. We should look at ourselves with love. In that same love we should love those around us. Be that one person today. That one person that spreads the Lord's love a little farther and deeper than yesterday.

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