By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
God doesn’t require that we give up everything we have to love others well. But there are few things he has given us that he asks us to hold with open hands, ready to generously give a portion of in order for the people in our lives to get a taste of the sacrificial love of Jesus. Wondering what those three things are? Read on…
We Are Blessed to Bless Others
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.” 1 John 5:1-33a NIV
Love changes the way we live our lives. In Christ, we discover what it truly means to love others. We love, because God loved us first. From his steadfast love, we are filled up and overflowing, and from that storehouse of love we can love others as an act of obedience to God (Moody Bible Commentary).
Though God doesn't ask us to give everything we have away, I do believe he blesses us so that we can bless others out of our abundance. "My cup overflows," writes David in Psalm 23. Indeed, God blesses us until our cups overflow, so that we have no excuse not to give out of the abundance of love and goodness he blesses us with.
Are you looking for ways to love others in your daily life? Every act of love in His name brings glory to our great God. With Jesus as our model and guide, here are three gifts I believe God has given us in order to be a gift to others:
1. The Blessing of Your Time
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” - John 15:13 NIV
“Go ahead,” I told the two elderly ladies as we all exited the Post Office. I had almost cut them off in my rush to get out the door. “I’m just rushing to rush,” I said to them, laughing. They agreed we are all caught up in a rush for nothing. We don’t know the number of our days, but we serve a God who does. The lie we lack time to pause in love for one another runs us around in unsatisfying circles. We were created to love God and each other!
The God of time is faithful to stretch it in order to allow us time to love the people He has placed in our lives. Perhaps we need to submit our agendas to God in prayer, and ask Him what needs to go. Or, maybe in our rush to get from place to place we just need to stop and look around. Just pausing to smile and say ‘hi’ to someone can serve another soul with love.
There are things we all suffer and struggle with in this life. Foundations are formed to help people fighting cancer by people who have fought cancer. Recovered addicts now serve as mentors and counselors for others going what they went through. Moms who have grown children bless young mothers with their time and wisdom. We all just want to know we’re not alone. When we give of our time, we send that message. We are all loved, all purposed, and meant to do life together. From shoveling our neighbor’s driveway to sitting on the front porch and listening to them …we have time to love the people in our lives …and beyond.
2. The Blessing of Your Money & Material Things
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” - Deuteronomy 15:11 NIV
Many Christ-followers give a weekly, monthly, or yearly tithe, a percentage of income given back to God in honor of all He’s given us. Tithing provides local church ministries with provision to help the poor and suffering in our communities, and beyond. Our generosity doesn’t start and/or stop with tithing. Love gives beyond what is required. There will always be those less fortunate than ourselves, and God looks at the heart of the giver over the size of the gift. Leave a quarter in a self-serve grocery cart, so the next person (who may not have remembered theirs) is blessed by it. Have faith God will provide another quarter for the next time.
Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NIV) We can give an old TV to someone who doesn’t have one. We can pack a bag of clothes we don’t wear and take them to the homeless shelter. Or give them to the neighbor who would appreciate gently worn clothes and toys for her children. The excess in our pantries can be added to food banks.
Give when God gives the opportunity to give. If we wait for people to tell us what they need, we may never know how we can help them. When actively involved in the lives of the people in ours, I believe God connects our abundance to those in need. If we pray for it to be revealed to us, He will faithfully point us in the right direction.
3. The Blessing of Your Comfort
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV
Loving people often means getting outside of our comfort zones. Christ carried a cross He didn’t have to carry. He chose to, so we would be free from the ramifications of our sin. We could not ever stand in front of our Holy God without Christ’s perfect sacrifice. He literally carried our burdens. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NIV) If we are to love each other as Christ loved us, it means carrying each other’s burdens.
Paul, in writing to the Galatians, didn’t mean a burden full of groceries, but moral burdens or weaknesses. (NIV) Christ Jesus made it clear the most important commandment was to love God and then our neighbor. We are blessed when we give up our agenda to carry another’s burden. Pray and keep in contact with the friend suffering from depression. Remind her God loves her and it’s not her fault. Invite the single mom and her children over for dinner and just listen to her over a shared meal. There are many opportunities God gives us to carry each other’s burdens.
Love was not designed to be legalistic or forced. We’re not called to simply tolerate the burdens of others, but to lovingly desire to carry each other through them. It isn’t a prideful carrying we take credit for, but an honor to stand in and take the time to love someone in honor of Christ, by whom we have the power to love others in His name.
Paul wrote to the Roman church, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please our selves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” (Romans 15:1-3 NIV) When we carry each other’s burdens, we are fulfilling the law of Christ. Everything we do is to bring glory and honor to God. Christ, living in us, produces every good thing. Sometimes, the people in our lives need us to listen to them, hug them, and love them right where they are at.
When it comes to giving up things in order to love people, they are usually connected to our time, money and material things, or our comfort. The apostle Luke penned these words of Jesus: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV). We can give up our time, money and material things, and comfort, in full faith that when we do such things to love in the name of Jesus, He will provide and sustain us with His great Love.