Do we believers know how to love?

I have more in this train of thought than I can share publicly. Here are some of my thoughts.

I wonder sometimes if we loved and reacted to our biological family with the response we show for our faith family, what their reaction and feelings might be toward us might be. What if we waited until our mother, sister or brother asked us for help? What if we never responded to their successes, joys, celebrations, and dark times? The response to many of us going through deep waters is mainly words and offers. We mean well, but often, in reality, withhold love until we are asked. I

The response to many of us going through deep waters is mainly words and offers. We mean well, but often, in reality, withhold love until we are asked. I meant my offers, but by telling them I would wait until they asked instead of just putting them in the driving seat, it too often put the person going through distress in a place of having to swallow pride and ask for help.

I now realize how much more I need to know of God’s un-relentless love for me — and how to demonstrate that love to others.

As I re-evaluate my response to others, repent for my failure to give the love and encouragement that I could/should have, readers may find it useful to consider my own resolutions.

I realize that I cannot go back and rectify my failures and neglect. I should leave those failures in the past, but resolve to do better in the future. [That is what repentance is — quitting past behaviors and making a change.] I don’t want my actions in the future to be because of guilt, but an awareness and realization that God can use me and my “cup of water” to encourage others.

I want God to help me be a better ambassador of his love. I want people to have a clearer picture of the love of Christ through me.

I want to become more aware and caring, willing to do something that encourages and blesses them, even if it takes some my time and effort.

I do not want to forget them after one or two actions, but continue to bless them — just as God never forgets me. His blessings are every day.

I do not want to wait to be asked before I offer loving actions.

I do not want to belittle how God can use a “cup of water” — in the form of a card, a call, a cookie, or a visit — to encourage and bless God for using me to speak to them of his faithfulness.

I want to be willing to take the time to be a blessing.

As I contemplated this over the months, I was suddenly aware that God was not only aware of every cup I offered others in need, but he was also aware of every cup that I could have offered (re-read Matt 25:34-43). For a guy that is not overly sensitive to the needs of others, this troubles me. I must have missed so many opportunities. In those cases, I was more like the “others” in the Good Samaritan story.  I don’t think that those opportunities were examples of what the new creation that Holy Spirit is seeking to make me into. Someone has written that we are the hands of God when we show loving actions toward others, reminding them of Jesus.

When God really begins to work in me, people will notice his love being demonstrated in my actions, kindness and thoughtfulness. Only when we as a church family get revisited by his Spirit, will the world around us will take notice.

On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he said to his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

If love is the primary indication that God’s Spirit is working within us, we might just need a refreshing — an awareness that we need him to do a new work in us.

Rev 2:4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!

Now, as the pastors would say: Here are the Take it Home thoughts.

1. You can’t go back and really make up opportunities that were lost. You may have regrets and you may make up some lost ground, but we must learn and “pass it forward.”

2. Doing loving acts out of guilt or because of pressure is not the ideal God wants, but they are better than not doing anything.

3. The ideal is to be so open to the leading of God, sensitive to people whom he brings into your life and blessing them whenever, however, and as you are able.

4. Loving people with loving acts may be a sign God is working through me; failure to respond certainly indicates I am dull to the Spirit and certainly not walking in the Spirit.

5. Praying with and for people is needed and God-desired; but unless followed up by loving acts, it is likely just words.

Spirit, revive, refresh your work, give us sensitivity to the needs of others — reveal Jesus to us and in us.

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