Are we loving as we should? Really loving?
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."" Romans 13:8-10
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion." Romans 12:9-16
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done in selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:1-2
Loving people isn't always easy, is it? No where in the Bible does the Lord tell us loving people is easy. The key is loving like Jesus. The focus is the love Christ has lavished upon us. The mission is loving people where they are.
Too many times we try to step in and change people. We think we need to offer our opinion and once it is given that person should wisely accept it and move to change in that very moment. Wow, you all, who do we think we are? Really? Do we think so highly of ourselves that we need to step into situations that have nothing at all to do with us?
A few months back someone felt the need to share with me the activities of my son. Now, were my son's activities of godly character? Not so much. He knew he had made a mistake. But see, it took Christ to move him to see for himself. This person who felt the need to contact me did more harm than good. Let me explain. When we have close friends, we are sharing all the time. We meet for coffee. Dinner and a day out are frequent. Our lives intertwine with one another. We know where we are with our relationship. Our relationship is built on trust. The person who contacted me had never had a conversation with my son. I don't think our conversations were more than a hello in passing. So when this person shared their words I can tell you it wasn't received in love.
There are times our actions can do more harm than good. If we are not led by the Lord to move on behalf of another than we need to keep our opinion to ourselves. What this person could have done was pray for my son. This person didn't share anything I didn't already know. It would have made more of an impact if this person had invested time in my son's life.
For us to make an impact on the life of another we must love like Jesus. We must encourage and inspire. We must give value to that person. We must treat them as we would want to be treated. For every action there is a reaction. Our actions have the power to bring others closer to Christ or to turn them away. When we feel the need to step in we need to ask ourselves a few questions:
Is the Lord leading me to this action?
Have I prayed about this situation?
Could the Lord be teaching me something through the actions of this person?
Friends, just because we see a behavior we know is wrong, we don't know all the details. I can tell you without a doubt there is always more going on than what our eye sees. We tend to miss out on all that this person is doing. That's what happens when we don't invest in the lives of others. This takes time and yes, time is love. Love is an action verb. We actually have to make an effort to get to know people. Once we know the heart of a person we can understand so much more.
In our Christian walk we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to love like Christ. We too are to love them enough to wound them, but with that comes much responsibility.
"Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let's stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall." Romans 14:12-13
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1
"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12
Love goes beyond self. Love sees that person right where they are flaws and all. I can tell you it would have impacted my son's life in a huge way for this person to step forward and give his time and friendship. Just living an example encourages others to walk close to the Lord. We are going to stumble and most of that time it's going to be over our own feet. We are so focused on how others are walking we lose our own footing.
When a baby begins walking they spend more time falling down than they do walking. Think about this. This too is our Christian walk. I have learned more from my own stumbles and have grown by seeing my Savior lift me up and love me than I have from someone else stepping in to tell me how wrong I have been. Yes, there is a time to step in. When we see our brother or sister in danger we should step in, but even then we step forward with grace and love. Not condemnation and judgement.
"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved." John 3:17
I have found that by being transparent and sharing my own stumbles brings others to know they are not alone. It gives comfort for others to know they aren't the only people who struggle. Think of how much more we can bless others if we begin with encouragement instead of knocking them down when they are already down. Be a friend. Share your own experiences in times when you have stumbled and when Jesus has lifted you up. Invest in the lives around you. When you give your time others will then pay attention to what you have to say.