“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Prov. 3:3)
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” (Prov. 3:27)
Before we start each day, I pray with the kids and ask God that He would help us to be a blessing to others that day; that we would be kind, gentle, generous, and loving, and that we would shine the light of Jesus wherever we go. I want to instill in them the focus on loving others before ourselves.
God’s greatest commandments are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat. 22:37-40). We are to walk out this life on earth, loving others and drawing them to Christ.
Too often as Christians, we let our flesh pull us in the other direction. Not excluding myself, I’ve seen countless times where our actions and behavior towards others destroy our testimony and the opportunity to be a witness to them.
What do you do when a customer service rep at the desk messes something up or doesn’t give you the level of service you’re looking for? Do you give them attitude and speak to them condescendingly? Does your face turn red, your actions get more aggressive, and the tone of your speech sharpen? Do you berate the individual for something they may or may not even have control over, simply to let them know how upset you are at them, their company, their service, or their product?
Or rather, do you show them love by giving them grace even if they’ve erred, being gentle in your speech and behavior even if you feel they don’t deserve it, and perhaps being encouraging rather than critical?
Does your reaction reflect a heart that has faith in God and trusts Him for the results, or do you lambaste (attack, criticize, reprimand) them for not meeting your expectations? Is your response characterized by Christ’s love or by self-centeredness?
Please recognize that the way we react to people and situations, is a reflection of where our heart is. It’s a reflection of our relationship with Christ, a reflection of our trust in God’s sovereignty, and a reflection of the Holy Spirit’s fruit (or lack of) in our life.
Whether it’s responding to someone cutting you off on the road, frustrating you in the workplace, or upsetting your daily rhythm, we must view these as opportunities to be a witness for Jesus who compels us to LOVE others.
Please don’t get me wrong, as I’m not saying we should never be upset. We have every right to bear righteous anger and indignation in response to anything or anyone opposing God or mistreating and harming others. We are to stand for justice and righteousness in places of darkness. We are to stand on God’s Word, stand up to injustice and sin, and then leave vengeance to the Lord.
But the verse above tells us to not withhold good when it is in our power to act, and not just in the context of giving resources, but in giving grace and mercy through everyday circumstances. There are times when upsetting situations are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and more important than the outcome of the circumstance, is whether we take these as opportunities to share love; lest we fall into sin ourselves by sharing scorn and judgment instead.
Know that every interaction God gives us with someone, is a chance to be a witness for Christ, share the love of Jesus, and plant a Gospel-infused seed in their lives. Let’s not let our flesh, pride, and self-righteousness take away these opportunities to minister. Bind love and faithfulness around your neck, and write them on the tablet of your heart. Amen!
[From December 3, 2018]