Loving One Another
Week of April 22, 2012
But we don't need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. –1 Thessalonians 4:9
Recently, I attended a family funeral. We have a large family that fills a room with love and conversation and hugs and tears and years of shared memories. My father is the best storyteller I know, and one of the ways God uses him to minister to my cousins, who have lost a parent, is to sit with them and share heartwarming stories of his time spent with their parent on job sites, during fishing expeditions and in places and situations they would not have known otherwise. Dad’s stories and his prayers are his greatest gift to them at a time like this.
Loving one another is inherent. God designed us this way. And taking dedicated time to express love and bear one another’s burdens is invaluable and should be a top priority for us all.
It seems funerals are held on weekdays much of the time, which isn’t very convenient for loved ones who work. Yet, the coordination of all the family members’ logistics were pretty amazing for this particular funeral, as each person attended to not only show their respect but to serve one another. In this, I witnessed God’s abundant grace.
For example, my brother worked the day before the funeral, then departed his home that evening at midnight, drove seven hours, had breakfast at Mom and Dad’s, then donned a suit, drove to the funeral home to serve as a pall bearer, then drove back home for work the next day. My cousin-in-law came in the day prior and served similarly. And all of the immediate family members stayed in town for a week to offer support and comfort.
James 1:27 reminds us, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted..."
Like funerals, life offers us many opportunities to serve others in brotherly love.
I recall a woman who once shared with me that she had been widowed at a young age. I was surprised to hear this and to witness the wisdom that poured from her by having gone through that situation. One of the most memorable things she shared was that, when a loved one passes, widows are encapsulated in a kind of grace bubble. But then, after the family and friends go home, the painful reality of separation hits hard. I remembered her words in my mind and heart as I recently hugged my widowed aunt good-bye to return home. I know continued prayers will help her, but I also know that taking time to visit her will also help her know the love of Jesus in a unique and tangible way. We are His hands and feet.
Shortly after this funeral, I flew to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. It was as though God wanted to further instill this principle in me.
Everywhere we turn, people are in need. Do we choose to take time for them? Are we too busy to help them? Are we surrendering our agendas to God? Are we praying for divine appointments? Serving others? Are we willing to be inconvenienced to help someone else?
Dad is old school. He doesn’t care about computers or electronic devices beyond what is necessary in his life. The wisdom that pours from him reminds me to make people a sincere priority, an intentional pursuit. This is brotherly love. It honors God and keeps our heart pliable and connected to what’s most important.
Romans 13:9 reminds us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Sometimes, we need to ask God how He would have us love and serve. Sometimes, we need to slow down and take time. God is love, and His ways are higher than ours. He sees the whole heart of every person and every situation. He has just the right strategy for you to love and serve. Proverbs 3:6 reminds us to "Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Psalm 37:4 reminds us to "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Prayer: Lord, I surrender my heart to you, and I repent of not having taken the time you’re your people. Show me how to best love and serve them. Give me Your eyes to see, Your ears to hear, Your heart to know. Open doors of opportunity for me to love and to serve, and enable me to receive Your strength to do it Your way and in Your time. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
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