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Suppose someone sees a brother or sister in need and is able to help them. If he doesn’t take pity on them, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:17 (NIRV)

We live in difficult times. The rate of divorce is skyrocketing to the point where nearly ¾ of our children live in single-parent or blended families. The ‘American Dream’ of owning a home, which used to be ‘normal’, is fast becoming a luxury. In some major cities entire housing developments sit empty because the families that once played in their streets have been displaced.

Those discouraging facts are just a few of the travesties in our own nation. They don’t begin to talk about the starvation, political unrest, human rights violations and religious persecution seen in nations around the world.

It’s not hard to find someone in need. The hard part is finding a way to help. Most of us have enough struggles of our own to contend with. We feel inadequate or unable to really offer any meaningful help that will make a difference in the world. We can become so focused on the things we can’t do that we forget about the things we can do. We see the world problems and forget about our neighbor or the kid at school that gets picked on all the time. Or the teenager who finds herself pregnant…again.

Max Lucado, in his book “He Still Moves Stones”, tells the story of Leo Tolstoy, a great Russian writer. It seems Tolstoy was walking down the street one day and saw a beggar. Tolstoy was moved to give the man something but upon looking through his pockets found he had nothing to give the man. He reached out and put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said “Brother, I’m so sorry but I have nothing to give you.”

The beggar looked Tolstoy in the eyes. A smile crossed his face and he said, “You have given me more than I asked for, for you have called me brother.”

It doesn’t take a lot to change someone’s life, even if it’s just for a day. It may be a smile, a kind word, an encouragement. It may be choosing not to make a judgment based on the obvious. You can make a difference in your world. It doesn’t take riches or gifts or abilities. It takes love, caring and compassion. It takes realizing that you too have faults and weaknesses and, in God’s eyes, are no different than the person in the physical, spiritual or emotional gutter.

Show the love of Jesus in your world today. Show it to the person you come across who least expects it…and least deserves it. Showing the love of Jesus to others may only be a smile or a word to you, but to them it just may make their day the best day they’ve had in a long time.

PRAYER: Father God, when I look around me at all the bad stuff going on in the world I’m made aware that even in the midst of my own crisis’ I am truly blessed. I struggle with sin. I am in debt so far I may never see the light of day. I’m living under the consequences of my own failure. Still, I have something to give because I have your love within me. Show me someone today who needs your touch. Empower me with your Spirit to touch them with your love. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 


It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5

Remember growing up and having that ‘friend’ that always made the rules about the games you played? Remember how, for some strange reason, the rules always gave them the advantage? Remember the time you tried to stand up for yourself and change the rules to be fairer and how your friend ‘wasn’t your friend anymore’?

That’s not love.

Remember the time you made a stupid mistake and offended a dear friend? Remember how he/she exploded in anger and said some really hurtful things. Now the relationship isn’t the same, in fact, you barely speak to one another?

That’s not love.

Remember that argument that you had with your spouse/significant other/ family member/boss? You know, the one where all the mistakes you ever made in the past were brought up as fuel for the fire. Things you thought were long forgiven and forgotten suddenly became missiles that pierced your heart.

That’s not love.

The hardest part about loving someone the way Christ wants us to love is that we are so vulnerable. We lay ourselves out emotionally and physically in such a way that it is easy to get hurt. True love is that Christ-like kind of love that seeks what is good for the other person in every circumstance and relationship we find ourselves in along this journey we call life.

The struggles of life and the fact that we are human is the hardest part of loving. When you offend me (for the umpteenth time!), love says it’s okay. We’ll work though this. When I offend you (for the umpteenth time!), love tells me I know I can come to you and ask forgiveness without fear of this situation coming up in a much later conversation. Love endures countless emotional and physical let downs. Love knows when to stand up for ourselves or walk away graciously when we are in danger.

Christ-like love should be like a healing salve on the emotional, spiritual and physical wounds that others have put on us. It comforts, builds up, understands and forgives. Christ-like love is supernatural because in my humanness I’m too weak to love the way I want to. It is during those tough times of life when I rely on His love to give me strength and to strengthen those around me.

PRAYER: Father when I think about all the things love really means I’m in awe that anyone can love. When I see the many ways I’ve failed to love others and the many ways human love has hurt me, I am tempted to give up on love all together. I ask that you would encourage me to see that the love Paul describes is ideal, supernatural love. It’s not just the love you expect us to have for others, it’s the love we can expect from you. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to learn how to love those around me like you do. In your name I pray, Amen.

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