Category Archives: Loving others

Patience

Loving Others-Day 8-Heaping Coals of Fire

 

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others-Enemies

Yesterday we thought about people in our lives that can be tough to love. And we hopefully realized that we have to love these people anyway. You might not have to “like” them on Facebook or follow them on twitter, but you’re called on to love them.

Today, I want to talk about some verses in Proverbs that have always intrigued me:

“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head and the Lord shall reward thee.”

Proverbs 25:21-22

There is a similar verse in the New Testament, in Romans 12:20.

It’s strange isn’t it…but it speaks to us at our human level and in some way acknowledges our human nature’s desire for revenge.  “OK, so I’ll feed him, and give him some water…but only because this will make his ultimate judgment even worse! I’ll show him!”  This isn’t exactly the right motivation or loving attitude is it?  But the verse doesn’t speak or even seem to care about how you FEEL while you are doing it.  It just says do it.

And what do the “burning coals” mean? Interpretations and commentary on this verse are a bit all over the map.  Some say that the “burning coals” during that time in history were symbolic of mercy and blessings and did not mean ultimate revenge and that the negative “hell-fire” like connotations attributed to the coals are misguided.  Some commentators give the divine justice “hell-fire” interpretation some credence.

One I liked best balances the justice with the mercy.

Meaning:  if you minister to your enemy one of two things will happen:

1. He will be won over by what you are doing and your relationship will be restored and maybe you will end up leading that person to Christ or helping them in their spiritual life.  (A “win” for you both and God is glorified).

2.  He won’t.  He’ll be ungrateful-maybe even spurn you and wonder about your motives.  (A “win” for you anyway because you’ve been obedient and you’ve prayed for “God’s best” for him.  You’ve kept your side of the street clean. And God is glorified).  So you can move forward in peace.

So, by being the loving person, you “win” under either scenario and you know that God will be glorified and is in charge of deciding the ultimate outcome!

And God PROMISES you a reward if you do it.  You may have to wait until Heaven to get the reward or it may be more immediate.  But He’s promised it and you know He doesn’t lie!

If you wait until your heart is right, you’ve forgiven the person completely  or your motivations are pure and selfless and Christ-like chances are you would never bake the bread or pour the water.  You’ll just stay stuck.  Then your enemy wins and you don’t get the reward.

It’s like telling a child if he eats his broccoli, he will get ice cream.  And if he doesn’t eat his broccoli, there is no ice cream.  So you might as well eat your broccoli now so you can get to the ice cream!

So ask God to help you love through your actions even if your heart and mind aren’t there yet.

Leave the future to Him and choose to love through actions today and wait for the promised reward!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Loving Others Day 4-Recognizing We Are In It Together

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others Through Unity of Purpose

The idea of loving our neighbor as ourselves may seem simple enough if we can relate to our neighbor.  But do we feel a common bond with people who look different than we do, or do not share our life experiences?

Loving Others: “Haves” and “Have Nots”

If we come from a family who struggled financially, do we resent the person who seemingly had advantages and status “handed” to them and do we seek to grab what they’ve got?  Likewise, if we have some material success, do we resist sharing resources with others?  Be mindful that either attitude is destructive.  A desire to cling to our “stuff” demonstrates a lack of recognition that God is the universal source of all resources.  Similarly, seeking to force others to give demonstrates our lack of Faith in God as provider. None of it is “ours” -instead it is all His.

This is the principle that we see demonstrated in the biblical practice of tithing.  We give a percentage of our income back to the “source” and by so doing demonstrate our recognition of God’s provision to us.  From personal experience, I know that this practice does immeasurable good not only to the Church and it’s work, but to our own personal finances.

We all are probably conscious of the deep divide that exists in the United States and elsewhere between “rich” and “poor.”  There have been prominent debates about what makes a person “rich” or “poor.”  We see illustrated in the life of Job a man who experiences both great wealth, status and abundance and utter desperation   In this way, we see that

“The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.”  Proverbs 22:2.

We are all therefore rich-in that God loves us all and calls us to an abundant life- and we are all poor-without God we are nothing.

Loving Others By Being Unconcerned With Our “Stuff”

If we hold loosely to what we have and use our resources to care for ourselves and our families and also give abundantly to the Church and those around us, we demonstrate Christ’s love to others!

These principles are completely separate from our tax code and system of government.  Whatever your individual beliefs about tax reform and entitlements, drop them at the door of the Church.  Because within the Church we have our own tax code-God’s word and many “entitlements”-God’s promises.  As we let elected officials argue about the role of the government and participate in that process as we are individually led, know that within the Church giving to the poor-“our neighbors” is never optional.  It’s a mandate.  Let’s do it with gratiude and love for each other! (And, for now, it’s tax deductible!)

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

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Loving Others-Day 5-Don’t be “That Kind” of Giver

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others By Giving Good Gifts

Having Just Come from Christmas  maybe you got some lame gifts.  Stuff you will never use. Stuff that doesn’t fit.  Stuff you may sell or re-gift or donate.to someone in need.  Stuff that demonstrates that the gift-giver did not put any thought into the gift.  Stuff that demonstrates the giver KNEW what you wanted (maybe even asked you what you wanted) and made a point to NOT get it for you and to get you something you else. (The passive-aggressive mode of gifting).

We should not be those kinds of “givers” when we try and love others.  I am not really talking strictly about material gifts anymore but instead am talking about our emotional, spiritual and physical energy as well as our TIME which is an asset you can never get back.

What’s the application?

I have two….and they both have a term in common…and that is ASK!  In today’s context I am talking about the common meaning of “ask”-posing a question.

Loving Others By Getting Them to Their “Ask”

When someone is experiencing any need and they need support, there is a time to let that person “vent” to us.  Indeed, we love someone simply by listening to their heart as they talk and identifying with their sadness, frustration, loss or trial.

But how much more we could do if, after listening for a while, you move the person to their “ASK.”  Find out how you can help them.  “What can I do for you to help?”  This will often surprise people and they will not know how to respond.

But what you have done for the person in that moment is moved them from the venting stage, which has limited usefulness to the action stage, where they can “get over it,” and you are being God’s instrument to minister to that person practically.

Examples:

A mom has a newborn, company visiting from out-of-town and another sick child at home!  You could offer to take care of the newborn for a while, or perhaps take the out-of-town guests sightseeing or fix a casserole, (A standard here in the south!)

A friend is facing having to put a loved one into an assisted living facility.  You went through this with a loved one and know of a great place.  You pass that information to your friend, saving him or her the massive time involvoed in locating the right facility.

A friend is complaining about her job and you know the person in charge of Human Resources at a company that is hiring and you introduce her to that perosn.

This “ASK” principle serves to put love of another into action.  This is a powerful message to the individual.

Of course, the person may not have that readily comes to mind when you ask them what they need from you.  They may dejectedly say, “There is nothing you or anyone can do.”  Or, they may need something you cannot give, like vast sums of money.

This will move us into tomorrow…..that second component of ASK!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

 

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Peace Fruit

Loving Others-Day 3-Who is My Neighbor Anyway?

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others By Broadening our Concept of “Neighbor”

So who is my neighbor anyway?

Yesterday we got super-literal with the concept of neighbor as a roommate or someone living next door or on your street.  I think that we figured out that our minimum standard for loving our neighbor is to do for him or her what we would want someone else to do for us.

But we know Jesus was talking about more than that. That His definition of neighbor was bigger, wider and much more expansive than the person from whom you’d borrow a rake or cup of flour.  It goes beyond our city, state and nation into all the world.

We are called upon to love “neighbors” that we have never met and probably never will!

How do we love those kinds of “neighbors?”

Well, if you are in a church I am sure you have heard of missions!  Maybe you have photos of missionaries from your church on your refrigerator at home as a reminder to pray for them and support them financially as you can.

Maybe you’ve sponsored a child overseas or gave to a program that purchases cows for communities!

Maybe you want to travel yourself to a high-need area and build houses, perform medical services, teach children or share the gospel!

These concepts are not new and you might be doing all of them or none of them.

One way that you may not have thought of is loving our “neighbors” in the world is through viewing the world positively rather than negatively.  Do you frequently say or think that “the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket”  or something like that?  Do you believe the world situation headed is headed for disaster and that there is nothing you can do about it?

This thinking produces inertia, ambivalence and apathy.  Why should I get off the couch, write a check, pray or do anything when the final outcome is inevitable?

Does that sound like love?

Loving Others By Reaching FAR Beyond our Neighborhoods

Indeed the world may be headed for destruction, but that gives us even more of a reason to pray and then as God leads you, exert effort and make great haste to bring resources where they are needed.  We cannot touch every person or every situation.  However, we can identify one or two things we can do individually, as a family, church or community to love neighbors world-wide.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

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Loving Others-Day 2-Loving our Next-Door-Neighbors

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others-The Folks Next Door

When we think of neighbors, we generally think of the people next door. Of course, Christ means a much more universal and wide definition of “neighbor.”  But for our purposes today-let’s get literal and think about the folks next door.

Loving Others-But What If We Don’t Like Our Neighbors?

What’s your experience been with your neighbors?  Good or bad?  Some of both mixed together?  Do you aspire to live far from any neighbors, on a big plat of land or in a remote location?  Or maybe you like close proximity to others and often have neighbors in your home.

My first experience with having my own personal “neighbors” was in college.  I am an only child and frankly did not look forward to the whole roommate experience.  Probably for my growth I was paired with a girl with whom I had very little in common.  Living with her was a bit of a trial.  She was big into “hospitality” such that HER friends were always in our room. One time I cam home rather late and people of both genders were asleep in our room-with one young man asleep in MY bed, which was “against the rules.”  The result was that I was in my dorm room very little and surrendered it to her, basically.

Yet, the next year, when it came time to choose roommates  we chose one another again because at least we had figured out how to live with one another.  Unfortunately over the summer she decided she wanted to transfer so I never saw her again.  Of course I hoped that maybe I would end up with a single room, although they weren’t typically given to sophomores   Instead, I got a girl with whom I had a bit more in common but who had messy personal habits and used talcum powder as face powder which would end up coating everything in our room with the white dust.

After prevailing on the housing folks, I ended up with my sophomore year single.

These years were before I became a person of faith.  I’d hope that now I’d have a different view of both of these girls and realize that they had been placed in my life by God and that I would view them with His eyes.

My next authentic experience with my own neighbors was during apartment life, when I finally realized it was best to live on the top floor so that you did not hear the people above clopping around on top of you at all hours of the day and night  Due to the nature of apartment living, I did not really form relationships with my neighbors.

In my current life, I feel blessed to live in a great neighborhood.  People are generally quiet and considerate of one another, maintain their homes nicely and watch out for one another.Everyone has a lot of individual space, yet the neghborhood gets together cohesively fairly often and people generally get along.  When our neighborhood began experiencing some issues with crime, the community got together and began plugging into each other’s lives a bit more and watching over the property on their street-rather than just their own homes.

What about where you live now?  Do you know your neighbors?  Do you keep up with one another?    Do you realize the just like God placing us in our families, He also places us in our neighborhoods.

Loving Others in Our Neighborhood

What do you do to bless and love your actual neighbors?

You can start by praying for them to have peaceful, harmonious, healthy and prosperous homes where Christ is glorified.  You can pray for the marriages within those homes to be strengthened.

You can take meals to new neighbors and introduce yourself to them.

If you see their dog running loose down the street you try and catch it and return it home safely.

Do all of those things that you’d want them to do for you!

If harsh words have transpired between you and your neighbor over barking dogs, improper or infrequent maintenance  fence repairs or clashes about the political signs you put in your yard, pray for an opening to repair that relationship. (Or that their house sells fast if a sign goes up AND that God won’t bring you anyone worse!)

A little levity today to illustrate that loving our neighbor promotes harmony in our lives and is pleasing to God.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Fruitful Days

Fruitful Days

 

Loving Others-Day 1-Loving Others Through Loss

 

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

 Loving Others

We’ve focused on loving God because it was the “first great commandment” and moved on to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  We examined loving ourselves first, because it is only by having the proper perspective on ourselves that we can love others as God intends.

We saw that at one extreme we are small and powerless.

We then saw that when God moves and empowers us, we can be used mightily to accomplish His will.

It’s all a matter of tapping into HIS strength and not our own and continually seeking that strength to sustain us and guide us as we interact with others.

So how are we best able to love others?

There are many ways we can do this-depending on who the other person is in our lives, how well we know them and how God leads.

One common situation where we are called upon to love others is when they have experienced loss of some kind-death, divorce, job loss, disappointment or any other kind of life-altering setback.

Loving Others Through Sorrow

In leading us, God gives us examples of what doesn’t work when trying to love and understand others.

As Job undergoes his losses and trials, he has friends who sit with him for a very long time.  They seem to be getting it right.  They sit with him in silence.  For seven days.

Then Job finally breaks the silence by curing the day he was born and lamenting his lot in life and then his friends have to start talking.  And it all falls apart. Nothing they say is helpful or comforting.  They tell him he must have some unconfessed sin in his life to warrant such loss.  They say it flowery language. They may have had the best of intentions, but they only succeed in troubling Job further.  At one point, Job tells them:

“Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.  Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths.” Job 13:26-27

Have you ever tried to love comfort someone and only succeeded in upsetting them MORE?  I’ve been there.

You say the wrong thing, then try to back away from it and do it awkwardly and both of you feel uncomfortable and farther apart than when you started?  The person may call you out on it or try to be gracious.  But you’ve said something you wish you could take back and the air is now thick between you and the other person.

Then we just start looking for ways to get OUT of there and kick ourselves the whole way home.

Sometimes we don’t even want to call or visit a person who is suffering because of a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.  So we don’t show up at all.

I think we learn a lot from this example of Job’s friends.  Sometimes it’s just enough to show up, sit, be silent and listen.  We don’t always have to provide explanations or solutions.  Just be present and mourn with those who are mourning.

Loving Others by Present Silence

 “A time to keep silence, and a time to speak”….Ecc. 3:7

Love doesn’t always have to speak.  Sometimes it can just BE.

All the Best in 2013

Julie

P.S.  Just happened to find this piece a minute ago when I “googled” the author, who will probably be moving to my town very soon.

 

Fruitful Days

Fruitful Days