Monday, July 25, 2011

Acts of Love Are Worth Much and Cost Little

Proverbs 25:11 tell us that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” This is perhaps one of the most apt descriptions of how a word of encouragement is received by someone who is depressed, discouraged, or feeling a sense of hopelessness. And I think if we are all honest with ourselves, all of us have been there at one time or another and have appreciated a word of encouragement from a friend or family member.

Jesus told us in John 13:35 that we would know His disciples by their love one toward the other. This was the only mark Jesus ever gave for a person who claims to be a Christian or a “little Christ.” And I suppose if you think about it, no other mark is needed as our love for one another demonstrates the gospel to its fullest capacity.

Many of the churches today fail to bring light to their dark communities because visitors sense no love among the members. Perhaps Marion Jacobsen put her finger on this missing component best when she said:

“If any group of Christians who claims to believe and practice all God has said in His Book will face up to their personal responsibility within the family of Christ, and to the real needs of Christians around them, their church will impress its community with the shining goodness of God’s love – to them AND among them. Such a transformation probably would do more to attract others to Jesus Christ than any house-to-house canvas, evangelistic campaign, or new church facility. People are hungry for acceptance, love, and friends, and unless they find them in the church, they may not stay there long enough to become personally related to Jesus Christ.

People are not persuaded, they are attracted. We must be able to communicate far more by what we are than by what we say.”

Mother Teresa offered a similar perspective on what ails the Western world:

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

John C. Maxwell once said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” The gospel message we proclaim is so much more than just quoting John 3:16 to someone. It is showing them the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus Christ. For you see, we are His representatives here and remain an example to a lost world that He truly did resurrect more than 2,000 years ago. The founding pastor of my church used to often say that you may be the only Bible anyone ever reads. I realize that it is a daunting statement but its burden in no way invalidates its reality.

Small acts done with great love are the core ingredients of the gospel. These acts provide a platform for sharing the gospel as the act itself IS the gospel in action. If you find yourself asking God to provide opportunities for you to share the gospel, start by meeting the needs of others and the door will swing wide open.
"Biblical love is not emotions or feelings, but attitudes and actions that seek the best interests of the other person."

- Jeff Bridges in The Practice of Godliness

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