Love One Another. It seems as if it should be the simplest of commands. And yet, it often becomes the most difficult. Love. Often unappreciated, unreturned, and sometimes disgarded. Now we know how God must feel. But He continues to love us anyway. He loves us, unconditionally, faults and all.
How can we love others in a way that makes a difference? I think we start by loving people as they are. And we stop believing we're more than we are. We don't love based on who we want them to be, or what makes us comfortable. We don't give love only when certain criteria is met, or certain goals are accomplished. And when it is hard to love, we pray that God will give us HIS love for them.
We love because God loves us.
One of my favorite sayings is "KINDNESS COSTS SO LITTLE." Yes, it's simple, doesn't say a lot. To be honest, I think the first time I read it was in an historical romance novel. But if you think about it, how difficult is it to be kind, to be a friend to someone? Why do we spend so much time finding reasons not to make a friend? We turn away from people because we find fault with who they are. Isn't that a lot like finding fault with who God created them to be? We won't be best friends with everyone in the world. But I think if we take time to see who God created that person to be, it will be a lot easier to love them the way He asked us to do.
Luke 10, 38-42 NLT
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!42There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Poor Martha, the example for so many messages aimed at women. We're all guilty of being a Martha--worried and upset over the details. And we've probably all been hurt by a Martha. Martha's first problem, distraction. She was distracted by what she felt had to be done. She fell into the trap, which we all do from time to time, of thinking she was the only one doing anything. The result, it puts others in a kind of bondage--making them believe they're not doing enough because they're not doing what we're doing, or what we think they should be doing.
Martha was distracted, but she was also a distraction. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, but the thought had to cross her mind that Martha was going to be mad at her for not doing the dishes, or setting the table. Martha probably slammed a few doors, tossed her a few looks as she stomped through the room, and did her best to let Mary know that she should get up and take care of business. Mary was quietly serving, not calling attention to herself. Martha didn't see it as service.
We're all called to serve, but there is a distinct difference between serving God and being busy. It's a heart issue. Martha was worried over all of the details and she lost sight of the important thing. Her activity was distracting her, keeping her from worshipping at the feet of Jesus. Her activity caused a type of tunnel vision that saw her own work and what she thought was Mary's inactivity. But Martha didn't know Mary's heart. When we become a Martha, even for a moment, we get distracted. We're so busy, we fail to notice that Jesus is in the room, waiting for us to sit at His feet and simply spend time in his presence...without activity. I get the distinct feeling that Jesus wasn't as worried about the dinner preparations as he was about spending time with Mary and Martha. He didn't need for Martha to explain to him everything she was doing, and what she thought Mary wasn't doing. He knew their hearts.
Mary had discovered the one good thing that couldn't be taken away from her.
God calls us to serve Him, but service isn't only in church, or in a classroom. Service can be the simple things, like taking time to talk to someone who is lonely. Service can be taking a meal to a neighbor. Service is taking time for people, and taking time for God. We shouldn't get so busy that we miss opportunities to love the people that cross our path each day.
All of the activity in the world can't and won't replace genuine love. Genuine love is what changes hearts and lives.
And yes, it has been a while since I've had a thought. I've done a lot of praying lately, most of it about other people, for other people. And some of it, I admit, has been selfish. I realize that we all do this from time to time. We don't like a situation that we're in, or the way people in our lives are treating us, or even the state of the world we live in, so we pray. We pray for everyone to change.
This thought hit me the other day. I was feeling a little lonely, a little let-down by people in my life. So I prayed for them. :-) And then I realized how much I was becoming the song, WAITING FOR THE WORLD TO CHANGE. It's a catchy song, with a catchy chorus. But it is a song about sitting back and waiting for the world to change, to change for us, to our standards. I wanted the people around me to change. I wanted them to act the way I wanted them to act. And I didn't pray for myself, that I would love them and accept them as they are, and for who they are in my life.
We can't wait for the world to change. We have to change our own hearts. We have to reach out with love and encourage others. We need to accept what people are able to give to our lives. Maybe what they're giving is it for the time being, but as we love them and accept them, maybe what they can give will grow.
As our hearts change, as we reach out more, maybe the world will change. Or at least our little corner might change.
Faith, Hope and Love...but the greatest of these is love.
What is Our Testimony?
When the world looks at us, do they see a chosen generation, a royal people, a holy nation? Or do they see floundering souls stressed by life, grasping for things, and losing a battle?
When people look at how we live, do they see overcomers? or dragged unders?
When was the last time you sang Victory in Jesus? And when was the last time you sang it and believed the words? This devotion is to encourage each one of us to seek peace, to find joy, to walk in faith and to shine with hope. Whatever problem you're facing, God has faced bigger problems. So sing a song of praise and remember that 'they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. The problem is already 'overcome.'
We should all seek the kind of faith that allowed Peter to walk on water, a woman to be healed by touching the hem of a garment, and a man named Paul to break forth from prison.
Most of all, don't forget in whom you have believed.
1 Peter 2:9-10
But YOU are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.