Sunday, August 11, 2013

Loving In Deed

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
1 John 3:16-18 


We live in a sinful world. People are continuously trying to prove why other humans are less valuable than they themselves are. One feels like they have the right to dominate, hurt, or oppress others who are different from themselves, or those who make different decisions than them. 

It seems to me this is a basic thing parents and teachers start trying to correct as soon as possible. “How would you feel if you were in their shoes?” Being a mother of 3 children myself, the phrases “would you like it if your brother did that to you? Then don’t do it to him!” often come out of my mouth. We all had to learn that growing up, though, didn’t we? We are born into sin. We are selfish people who struggle through life trying to fight our own pride that we are “better” than someone else; trying to feel a little better about ourselves.

Our sinful nature draws us away from our Creator, trying to keep “self” as the centre of our lives. We may not bow down to physical statues, but our culture has gods with the names of "self", "money", "sex", "fame". More and more, people's goals are to get noticed.  

So that being said, it really shouldn't shock me when I read or see the following articles or documentaries about just how little people value other people's lives. Take a look:

·         Give abortion a foothold and suddenly there isn't a line anymore, with discussion of "after-birth abortion" now on the table
·         Women and children who are forced into sex-slavery are seen as a commodity and are treated inhumanly
·         Homeless or hungry men and women are seen as nuisances to be gotten rid of (http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/08/06/montreal-man-to-pay-8000-for-writing-diatribe-against-panhandler-outside-montreal-liquor-store/).
·         Elderly and/or ill people (and their families) are given the option to end their life so they aren't in the way anymore

Human beings’ value is dwindling in our world.

It shouldn't shock me because we have always known that we are a sinful race, and Satan is out trying to steal, kill, and destroy…but it does shock me. It saddens me. It scares me.   

Reading or watching the above links makes my insides crumble and I just don’t want to believe it. I often feel like I can't do anything about it. How could I? I'm not a politician. I'm not a government official. I don't have a lot of money to start an organization, or the talent to attract attention to make a difference. I'm just me. A wife and a tired mother of three little children who stays home and does laundry and cooks meals and does my best to raise the little gifts I've been given. A person who hardly has enough energy to finish the dishes and tuck in the kids at night. I know God has given me (and each of us) talents and gifts, but when do I have time to use them? How can I make a difference?

We are all tired, busy people. Our churches are full of people who love the Lord and are doing our very best to make choices God would approve of; me included. But how can we even think about doing something to combat such big issues like abortion or human trafficking, when we have no extra time, energy, or even desire to do so? What can a person do?

Here are a few points about what God is teaching me about all this, and about how important it is for me to step out in obedience. I am learning how I can, in fact, be doing something to make a difference, even in my life situation.

·         First of all, before anything else, we need to remember who we really are. I am a daughter of a King. I do know deep down that I'm not just a mother. I'm not just a wife. As a woman who has devoted my life to following Jesus Christ and trying to do what he says in his Word by being led by the Holy Spirit, there are a few truths that I need to remember. I am a child of God.  He made me, and has drawn near to me. He has captured my heart and I know I am His daughter. I can call him “Father”.

“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Galatians 3:26

“but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”  Romans 8:15-17

·         Secondly, we need to remember that God our Creator has put a high value on each and every person. God says in his Word that we are all valued highly by him because of what he gave in order to save us. He paid the highest price to ransom our lives; so that we wouldn’t be lost for eternity. He gave the life of his Son. He gave his Son for the unborn baby girl with Down syndrome, for the 75 year old man who is fighting terminal cancer. Christ gave his life for the woman working the streets who lives in constant fear of not knowing where she will end up that night; and he gave his life for the people who openly reject the saving grace that he offers. They are valuable to Him. They are his children.

“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”  Deuteronomy 10:18 

“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28 

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:6

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 
1 John 3:16

·         Thirdly, God wants to pour out his love on people. All people. Hurting people.  He is a compassionate God. He is a God who rescues and saves people. How does a person experience his love and compassion? How can a person be rescued by God out of a terrible situation? It often happens through his hands and his feet – the Church. It is our job as the Church, to reach out with loving hands; to go to those in need and provide for them; to speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves. There is no shortage of people who need help; people in need are all around us. We should remember who we are and that we can be those hands and feet. That’s part of our job as children of a rescuing, loving God. In addition, the Holy Spirit does move in a tangible way so we can experience his peace and his healing. And we need his Spirit in us if we are going to love others.

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 
1 Corinthians 12:27

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”  Psalm 82:3-4 

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”  1 John 3:16-18

·         Fourthly, my faith in God is important, but without works it is dead. How can I love God, but not the people he made?

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  James 2:14-17 

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained form the world.”  James 1:27

“And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:2

·         Fifthly, if the Lord is asking me to do something for him, he will give me the strength and the grace to do it. Not only that, he will give me joy in it!

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”  1 Peter 4:11

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...”  Galatians 5:22

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26

“…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…” 
Ephesians 3:16

On a more personal note, over the last 3 months I’ve been learning that some of the people that I can serve and love on right here in our city are just across the river from where I live. There is whole world that I am learning about that I never knew before, just a 2 minute drive from my house. I just had to find someone who was already working there to introduce me to how I can help. And this person who is teaching me has been sitting in the same church as me for decades. I honestly didn’t think I had what it takes to go help, so I never bothered before. I didn’t even let myself think about giving outside of the church, because I was already busy inside the church. I didn’t feel bold enough. I felt like I wouldn’t know what to say. I thought I would feel uncomfortable. Well, the truth is, serving isn’t always comfortable, but once you take the first step out of your comfort zone, invite the Holy Spirit to be with you and lead you, you will discover that you “can do all things through him who gives you strength”. And you get stronger as you go.

I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to do a work in our lives, as believers of Him. In my personal journey, I think God is doing more in my own heart than he is in the people I am reaching out to! I feel like I’m growing in my faith because I’m being put in situations where I actually have to use it; I have to rely on God and his Spirit because I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s wonderful! God wants me to be doing, not just believing. 

Many of us can’t get up and go to other parts of the world. We aren’t all called to. But God has put us where we live for a reason. No matter where you live there are people who need the Lord; people who need help. God wants us to seek those who feel like they aren’t good enough to come to church. We need to go to them. The truth is that none of us are good enough - but there is Someone who is, who has a heart big enough for every race, every economic status, every man, woman, and child.

How do you begin? Pray. Ask the Lord what he wants you to do. Ask him to put people and situations across your path that will direct you that way. Look at your neighbours. Keep an eye out for their needs, or for a way you can just bless them practically. Also, there are a lot of missionaries in our own cities - people who are restoring value to the men, women, and children around us, and they would love to help others to do the same. Many of these missionaries can be found in your own church. Approach them and ask them what they do and if they could use some help. I can guarantee that you will go out to serve feeling tired, but you will come home feeling refreshed, because you are doing something that the Lord asks of you. I’m learning that it’s the most exciting thing a person can do. You will feel more alive than you have ever felt. It doesn’t have to be every day; maybe it’s once a week, or once a month. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.

Will you look into how you can join the work of restoration that God is doing in the city where you live? Will you be His hands and feet to your neighbour? Will you speak out for and to the vulnerable lives around you? Will you give just a little bit more of your time and energy to show some love to people you might normally ignore?

You will be blessed in it. I know I truly am!


3 comments:

  1. You said it just right Jenni. I can also attest to the tiredness you felt. You feel like you barely have enough for your own home, and then God takes a hold of you. You suck it up one day and go for it on night. By the time you come home you are so pumped up by the love of Christ flowing through you that you can barely sleep! You're faith is renewed, your body restored and your soul encouraged. Thanks for sharing. It's a great reminder of our call to love.

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    1. Thank you Donna. You are truly an example of what I'm talking about! May you be continually blessed and encouraged! Miss you!

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  2. Very well written, Jenni! Those are encouraging words to hear. Thanks for sharing your heart!

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