Pastor Terry: We’re in the middle of this ‘life app’ series that we started. It’s our New Year series. It’s something that I’m doing in conjunction with another teacher who’s sharing part of the life apps messages with me. A lot of you know about Rusty Roof. Rusty is someone who is an expert when it comes to integrating work and faith. He particularly relates faith to the workplace in his area of arts and technology. He’s been someone who’s involved with me in sharing and presenting. You can see a little bit more about Rusty and some of the things that he does at the bottom of the page, on the inside the handout underneath the scripture section.
One of the things we looked at last week was the beginning of laying out a platform. We’re calling this ‘life apps,’ but it’s built around a platform. The platform that we built it upon had to do with what Jesus said was most important. Two things that came up. One had to do with what Jesus said was the most important foundation. He said, “The person who hears these sayings of mine and does them is the person that I will liken to someone who builds their life on a rock. When the storms of life hit, that person’s house will stand because it’s built on a secure foundation.” It’s got a great platform.
We talk about the reality of storms, right now. There are a lot of things happening in our world. I know we’re a little bit shielded here in the United States, particularly on the West Coast, but there are a lot of things happening in our world that are very stormy. There are very scary times for people all over the globe. In our nation, there are times when storms of unrest and tensions exist. I’ve often said that some of the most difficult things to deal with are storms that are going on in our own lives. Sometimes, when they have to do with issues that we’re struggling with, then they can be even more of a challenging time for us.
These storms are inevitable. Sometimes they have to do with something going on in our job. It might be getting a job or wanting to make a change. It might be a health or relational issue. Some of the most painful things in life are things that go on with people we love and we feel powerless to change them. We’re affected by it, but those are storms. Those are all real. These are the things that are going to challenge the things we’re building our life on. Many times, our biggest struggles are inside of us with our own emotions and heart. How can Lord help us there?
We talked about how Jesus taught that when it comes to life platform, two of the greatest things we can build our life on are, “The greatest thing we can ever do is love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind and with all of our strength. The second is like unto this, that we would love our neighbor as ourself.” Basically, loving God and loving people. This is what it comes down to. This is what Jesus taught us. We’re going to take this idea of loving others and use it as an app built upon the platform that we’ve been exploring. We will talk about how we can do that better. We’re going to look at one of the greatest examples of what it means to put love into action, relationally. That’s Jesus. We are going to look at some scriptures together. I’m looking forward to sharing this. First, I want to pray and ask for God’s blessing over our time.
Lord, you know where each one of us is at. Every one of us here has their own aspirations and yearnings, and have come in with our own struggles. Oftentimes those struggles are very unique to us. They’re unique to the things that we carry from our past. A lot of those things affect our present. That’s not counting the things we sometimes have to deal with that are hard and challenge our lives. The foundation that we build on is a big deal. How do we learn how to love better? I know this is something you want to teach us to do. I pray that we would be able to watch how you modeled what you taught us, learn from it, and be able to apply it. I pray for this blessing. I pray for mercy. I pray for grace. We all need it. I pray for something of your life to flow among us. I pray that you would meet us and that we would come as honestly as we can before you, dropping our guard and being more open, Lord. I ask for your blessing over each one of us here. I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen, God.
It was a remarkable night in the life of Jesus. We read about it in John 13. It was different because He knew what was about to happen. In John 13, Jesus is on the precipice of having to move into a place that He knew He had to go, but part of him didn’t want to do it. He knew that in a few hours on that night that was unlike any other night, He would be betrayed. He would be betrayed by someone He had invested in and loved. Someone who would not only abandon Him but would literally turn on Him. He saw it coming. He was not oblivious to what was happening. He also knew that His closest men, the people He had poured His life into for three years, were going to run from Him. They were going to wash their hands of Him. They were going to break with Him completely and resolutely. There would be no ambiguity about it. They would deny Him. Jesus looked into their eyes. They were all seated around Him in that room. He saw they were fighting with each other. There was a disagreement that had emerged as to who was the greatest. In the context of that, Jesus gave them a lesson that was pretty radical.
There’s something about being in these transition places in life. When you’re having a conversation with someone and know this is probably the last time you’re going to have this conversation. After this, everything is going to change. We get to these points in life, sometimes we can relate to this, where we’re at a place where a particular conversation is not like all of the other conversations. It’s different. I want to suggest that the conversation Jesus had with His disciples on the night of His betrayal, was different. He knew that everything was about to change. He understood that this would be the last time He would be able to talk to them in the way He was. The chapter itself opens up by saying, “Having loved them.” Something about it inspires me. “Having loved them, He loved them to the end.” I find that compelling in and of itself.
While they were arguing, we know what happens next. While they’re having these subtle disagreements and exchanges, feelings inside that no one’s reading, they’re arguing amongst themselves as to who would get the best seat, Jesus puts a towel on. He does what no one would’ve expected. It was incredible in light of where he was going and what was about to happen. He paused to give them attention. He gave them one final great lesson. He started washing their feet. When He gets to Peter, Peter won’t let him, saying, “What are you doing? You’re the Lord. You don’t wash feet.” Jesus said, “Listen to me. If you don’t let me wash your feet, you’re going to miss this moment, and you’ll have no part of me. You need to let me wash your feet.” Peter said, “Fine, wash me and wash me all over.” When He did, Jesus said, “Do you understand what I’ve done?” After He washed the feet of these men who had been arguing about who got the place of preeminence, He said, “If I’m the greatest of you, you call me your Lord, your master, and your teacher. I am, but if I’ve washed your feet, then how should you be treating one another because you’re not greater than me?” He went on to say in John 13:34, “A new command I give to you. I want you to love one another.” That wasn’t new, but this was, “As I have loved you need to love one another.” In what seems like a very ordinary phrase but is quite remarkable, He said, “By this shall all people know that you are my true followers, my disciples, by the love that you exhibit one to another.”
He could have said or talked about many things. He could have said, “Listen, these are my last words to you. The way you acknowledge your love for me is by your utter devotion.” Or, “The way that you demonstrate love and the people know that you’re my disciples is by your willingness to die for me.” Or He could have said, “No, it’s by your willingness to do good to those who have no power, or to fight for the cause of justice, or to be a blessing wherever you go.” All of those things he could have said, and he did say them. They all had merit in and of themselves. But what he chose to say at this moment is that the greatest thing that you can ever do, the real mark, the distinguishing characteristic of my followers, let it begin here, “By this, shall all people know that you are my disciples by the love that you show one to another.” He tastes the love of God. He basically says it has to show up in our personal relationships and in the relationships that we’re most closely joined to. If it doesn’t, it’s empty, and that is a big deal.
He talked about that as an example for us. He is our example. Love as I have loved. When we take that into consideration, we realize that Jesus models for us how to love to our best. He did it in two simple ways. Ways that are worth emulating. The first one is Jesus modeled what it means to love with our words. The truth is, they often called Him the gentle Nazarene because His words were different. He spoke kindly to people that normally you wouldn’t expect a great teacher to talk kindly to. He was a remarkable example of tenderness, but that doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t speak hard truths. The fact of the matter is Jesus was not afraid to speak the hard truth. He did on more than one occasion. He modeled for us that there are times when speaking out a hard truth can be the most loving and honest thing we can do.
It’s clear there are times when speaking out a hard truth may require greater courage than speaking out a soft truth. A hard truth has a risk to it. The risk means you may reject me. There are times when we have to be open to the possibilities, especially when we’re talking about assessment and necessary change. Remember, we often talk about this in the church. We say, what is the most loving thing to do when there’s a problem? Pretend there’s no problem. Or to talk about it and say, “We have one and we need to deal with this.” The height of codependency is knowing there’s an issue, but we can’t talk about it because we’re afraid to. What the Lord wants to teach us to do, he modeled. He was a truth-teller. He didn’t flail around in anger either. He wasn’t oblivious to people’s feelings.
Someone once said to me, “What about when He was talking to Pharisees? Matthew 23 was this amazing example of Jesus being intense with his words.” I said, “Even there, Jesus was under control and was doing it out of a pure motive.” The many He was dealing with were so spiritually proud and blind to their own need for God, that the only way he saw he could have a remote chance to get into their lives was to hit them with the truth so hard they would bust open their barriers. Barriers that were keeping them away from God and not bringing them closer to Him. His hard truth was meant to help them. It was birthed out of a heart of love, even there. Most of the time, when Jesus talked, His words were exceptionally kind. When we start reading the gospels, one of the things we will be struck with is Jesus had an ability to speak hard truth, but he never did it out of control. He was in alignment with the Father. He had an incredible way to speak soft truth. He was tender to people, especially when they were broken.
An example I was thinking about was the contrast of two people. In John 8, there was the woman who was caught in adultery. She was brought before Jesus. In all of her shame and stigma, they said, “We should stone her according to the law. She should be put to death, you know it.” Jesus started to address that situation. He got into everybody’s closet. By the time it was done, He said, “Is there anybody here left who doesn’t have a need to be forgiven?” When He was finished with that, he turned to the woman and said to her, “Make a change. Be blessed.”
A tax collector named Zacchaeus was the exact opposite of someone who was down and out. He was up and out. There is such a thing. He had a lot of money, but he had something missing in his life. Many people despised him because he was a tax collector for Rome. He was viewed as a trader to his own people. But he was intrigued by Jesus. We know that he climbed up into a tree to take a look when Jesus was passing by. lo and behold, out of the entire crowd, Jesus saw him, this man on the margin, outside. Jesus says, “I want to go and eat at your house tonight. I’m inviting myself over for dinner at your house.” “Me, me?” “Yeah, you. We’re going to talk.” Jesus ended up talking to him about making a change in his life, how God want to do something new, and how he could have a new beginning.
I thought about Jesus on the cross because to me so much of it is beautifully modeled there. On the cross is Jesus. He is concerned for so many different people while He is saving the world. He’s burying the sin. Not just what He’s going through at a physical human level, which is shameful enough to be stripped down to the bone and literally nailed to a tree as a common criminal, bloody, shamed, hearing his enemies taunt him. Knowing that all of His disciples for the most part have abandoned Him. He is an absolute mess, and yet, He still models love even there. The very act itself was the epitome of love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. His words amaze me.
One of the things we know he does is send them out in different directions. In one direction, he sees his mother, Mary, at a distance. He sees the disciple who has returned, John, who will later be known as the apostle of love. John is there with Mary and a few of the other women watching from a distance. Jesus says, “Woman, behold thy son. Son, behold your mother.” In other words, John, you take care of her and she’ll take care of you. He’s exercising concern for his parent even there. Jesus has a criminal next to Him. The criminal’s listening to Jesus and watching what’s going on. No one’s going to remember the man. He has no future at all. His life is worthless. Many people would’ve called him garbage. He is going to die on garbage hill. He’s there listening to Jesus and takes a chance. He hears him talking about the promise of what is to come and says, “Will you remember me?” Jesus says, “I will. Today you will be with me. This day, you will be with me. I remember you.”
The epitome of loving words is the place that I can’t go, truthfully. It’s incredible. To the very people who put Him up there spitting on Him, taunting Him, laughing at Him, and scorning Him, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” They knew, but they didn’t really know. That’s what Jesus was really saying. I thought about after the cross with Peter. He’s coming back, Jesus has risen and they have this meeting on the Sea of Galilee. If you’ve ever been there, it’s beautiful. Its pastel hues of pink, blue, gray, and beige. The shore is very beautiful and the sea itself. On the shore, Jesus had bread and fish upon the fire. Peter comes in with the rest of the disciples. At this point, Peter is completely broken. He’s got nothing. He feels ashamed. He’s denied the Lord, resolutely broke with Him. Have you ever felt like you blew it so bad God could never use you? That’s what Peter felt. Peter is there, and Jesus says to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “I do love you.” He said it in front of everybody. “I know it didn’t look like it, but I love you.” “Then I need you to feed my sheep, I need you to represent my heart to people.” He says that three times. For every denial comes back an invitation. The tenderness of it is beautiful.
I was thinking about the love of Jesus and the way He spoke His words. His words went out in four directions. I’m going to call them the four circles of love. Particularly as it relates to the words of Jesus. The first circle of His love went out to people who were directly connected and intimate with those who were closest to Him. The second-place His loving words went was to those who were drawn to Him or more loosely connected to Him. The third place was the way he talked to strangers, people He didn’t know. Of course, He models loving words at the highest level. A level, to be truthful, I can’t get to. He modeled it by the way in which He spoke to those who hated and despised Him, His enemies.
I thought, Lord, how do we do this? Some of us do some things better than others. We’re talking about loving our best. We’re talking about the app for loving our best. How do we apply this to our life? How does our love show up to the people that are closest to us? Remember, on that night, he said, “I want you to love one another.” How does our love show up relationally? I was talking with someone about being loosely connected. We were talking about how many people we work with, people who are friends to us, but we’re not really close, neighbors and coworkers. We talk about strangers, people we don’t know. I was on Bard a couple of days ago. I was watching a guy and an older gentleman who was walking. He didn’t know him, he just came and offered to help him down. After he was done, I said, “You did a good job.” I don’t know if anybody else knew, but I saw what you did.
I think of enemies. I think about really bad people that we don’t know, we say, “They’re awful.” I know there’s justice. I’m talking about people who honestly irritate us. We know they work behind our backs. We know that they’re undermining us. They could be at our job. How does my love show up there? How do I respond to that? How do I respond in an environment where when I’m loving, it’s viewed as weakness and I get taken advantage of? I know the climate here. I get it. The vulnerable get taken advantage of. I’m doing that. How does my love for Christ show up there? I was talking to someone else and they were saying, “Oh, I have an ability. I can love strangers great. I like people that I don’t know that well.” I said, “But then how does that love show up with the people we know the best?”
What’s interesting is we are sometimes capable of saying things to people we’re supposed to love best that we would never say to a stranger. Somehow, with familiarity, we might feel permission to say things that honestly should never come out of the mouth of someone who claims to love Jesus. Some of the capacity to say demeaning things in our hurt to lash back. What is it about familiarity that somehow gives us permission to act as something other than what we know the Lord would want us to be? In James, it says the same mouth that sings praise to God should not be then cursing their brother and sister. God wants us to have congruency. You see each of those levels of love, specifically as it relates to loving words, where does the center begin? With ourself. When Jesus said, “You need to love your neighbor as you love yourself,” I think it implies that it begins with each of us.
Someone came up to me after the Saturday night service. It was with utter sincerity that she said, “You know what? I have trouble in all those areas.” I said, “What?” She said, “Especially with my self-esteem. I feel very badly about myself because of it. I tend to want the approval of people. I become co-dependent. I want to be accepted because I have such a low sense of my self-worth. What do I do?” What do you say? I said, “First, I admire you for even saying what you just said. Secondly, do you know what one of our goals is going to be this year? Our goal is going to be to get a little bit better in every area. We’re going to grow a little bit better.” What she was saying was I’m so wounded on the inside that I have a hard time seeing myself as a person of real value. I’m not talking about self-love in a self-absorbed prideful way that is just arrogance. It’s all about me. No, what I am talking about is how much of our relational issues are connected to the fact that we are not seeing ourselves properly, as a true son or daughter of the Lord.
When we allow His love to define us, it affects our capacity to love. Many times people are so broken on the inside, that a lot of those things are connected to trust injuries. Honestly, some of the most difficult things are the hurts of life. No one ever knows we’re struggling with it, but a lot of it has to do with how we see ourselves. It affects our capacity to love. Many of the reasons we do what we do are because we’re struggling to define ourselves on the basis of Christ’s love for us. Jesus says, “You are loved. You’re loved this much. Not only that, I call you to see yourself through the lens of who I am.” Even those of us who’ve had bad experiences with our fathers, sometimes think about how we think about God as our father. It can be hard sometimes because we have wounds there.
The Lord wants to teach us how to have a healthy love for who He says we are. I’m not talking about self-absorbed love. We’re like these cracked jars. The love of God, I receive your blessing Lord, goes right out because we are so broken up. There will always be things in our lives that are wounds. There’s a difference between an infected wound and something that has some scar tissue on it. The infection’s gone. There are some things that the great physician wants to heal in us. We may have a scar, but that’s a reminder of the grace of God. It says, “Look, Lord, I will always be grateful for you. But you took the poison and the infection out of me and set me free. Now, I can love better. I can love better.” Moving that right down the line, the other way Jesus modeled love is by loving in our actions. To only say loving things, but never to do anything is a huge disconnect. Jesus says, “Faith without works is kind of dead.” One of the things about Jesus is His love showed up not just in words. It showed up in the way He treated people. It showed up in the way He gave His life away. It wasn’t just words, it was words in action.
There was this story in Luke 10. It’s a great exchange. There was a man who wanted to know “where is the limit of my love?” This man is going to wrestle with the circles. He’s going to wrestle with, “How far does my love extend? What is my responsibility? What is my obligation? Who gets to fit into the circle of who are the people I’m supposed to love? How does that work?” Watch how he and Jesus go at it. It says, “Behold there was a certain lawyer who stood up as a religious lawyer, stood up and tested in me.” It’s very similar to the passage we looked at last week, but some things are flipped around and the story changes everything. It says, “He stood up and tested Him saying teacher, ” this was designed to put Jesus on the spot, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Waiting for Jesus’ answer, Jesus did what He had a habit of doing. He answered his question with a question. He said to him, “You’re a religious lawyer. What do you think? What is written in the law? How do you interpret it? How do you read it?” He had heard Jesus. Most likely, he also was aware. He agreed principally speaking. He says, “I see it like this. You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength. The second is like unto it, and you should love your neighbor as yourself.”
Waiting for Jesus to respond, Jesus says, “I could not have said it better than you just said it. You’ve answered beautifully. Go and do it.” I don’t know how Jesus said it. I don’t know if it was because he was looking at him or there was something about the eyes of Jesus, I’m convinced of that, that looked right through people. I don’t know if it was the way He phrased it, but it was something about Jesus’ answer that really bothered the man. It’s almost like he was saying, “Whoa.” It says, “He, wanting to justify,” justify himself from what? All Jesus said to him was, “Perfect answer. Go and do it, and you’re going to live.” He wanted to justify it.
Do you know what I love about it? He’s pretty honest. When we get confronted by a word from Jesus, a lot of times we’ll say, “How does that apply? Where’s the limit to that? What about the nuance? It’s not that easy.” He’s basically saying, “Whoa, who actually is my neighbor? How do I define it? What is the limit? You say love my neighbor. I do.” But as we’re going to see, his conception of neighbor was a very limited one to his people and probably to people he left. Jesus says, “Well since you asked, let me give you a story.” Whenever Jesus gives a story, watch out. He answered and said, “There was a man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. This man fell among thieves.” He got jumped. It was a notoriously dangerous road. You always took a little bit of a risk when you went alone. All the people in the story are taking a risk. That’s what it means. He didn’t just get jumped and robbed. They weren’t content just to steal his goods, they decided they were going to beat him to a pulp. They literally stripped him down, Jesus says, of all of his clothing and beat him up. He’s bleeding, robbed, thrown, rolled over on the side of the road, and left for dead. That’s the picture.
It says next, “Now by chance, there was a certain priest who came down the road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” The priest would’ve been someone who was in the same kind of circle as the religious scribe, the lawyer. He looked at the man and passed by on the other side. There could have been a lot of good reasons for it. I don’t want to get involved in that. I just prefer not to. I have time scheduled. The second one is a Levite who worked in the temple. When he arrived at the place, he did this a little bit differently. He came and he looked a little bit closer. He also decided it best not to take a chance. Many times people would pretend to be beaten. If you got close, it was a ruse, and they would jump you. You had some legitimate fear here and apprehension. Do I want to take that chance? Should I take that chance? Better not to get involved. I’m just going to cross back over. Sorry, poor guy.
Jesus says, “But there was another man.” It says, “There was a certain Samaritan.” Samaritans and Jews had religious tension because Samaritans were half Jewish. They had a hybrid expression of the Jewish religion. There was social, ethnic, and religious tension. It went both directions. They tried to avoid each other. There were no good feelings between the groups at all. Jesus pulls out and says, “Oh, but there was a Samaritan businessman who was passing by.” The crowd would’ve instantaneously picked up on it, and certainly, the religious lawyer would’ve. “As he was journeying, he came to where he was, but when he saw him, he had compassion.” Compassion, in my mind, is pity, you feel sorry, but it’s mixed with love. It usually causes a response. He says, “He had compassion, and so he went him.”
Jesus described it and says that he bandaged him. He gets down with him where he is and he, “Oh my, you’re a mess. Let me get something to help you. You’re going to be okay. Let me bandage this up a bit here, clean you up. Come on, I know this is going to hurt. I’m going to get you up on this, and you’re going to be okay, my friend. You can do this.” He gets him up on, I imagine the donkey and takes him. It says he brought him to an inn. He put him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day when he was leaving, he took out two Dinar, which is a pretty good sum of money, and gave it to the innkeeper. He said to the inn keeper, “I need you to take care of this man. I have to go. I have some business that I need to take care of. Whatever more you spend, when I come back, I will repay you. I have a line of credit with you. My tab’s good. I’m going to ask you to take care of him. I’ll pay you some right now, and whatever else I owe, I’ll take care of it when I settle the account on the way back. Just take care of him.”
So which of these three do you think was the neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves and was beaten, jumped, and left for dead? The answer’s obvious. You can’t say the name. It’s the one who showed mercy. Then you go do that. That’s what you need to do. You extend your love out. Love has to be activated. It was almost like this man was saying, “Here’s my love.” He’s narrowing it down to one and two circles, Jesus is pushing it into three, maybe even into four, given the potential environment. It was powerful. It was impressive. I think, “Lord, there is something there that you want to teach us.” Part of what the Lord is getting at here is pretty clear. A life that is lived selfishly will never know the joy that loving well brings. Jesus reminded us that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. In other words, the truly blessed happy life is filled with love.
One of the greatest benefits of love comes when it is extended on behalf of other people. Let’s not rush past that because when we push beyond our comfort zones, which is exactly what this is advocating, where is our line? Push beyond it a little bit, push beyond the comfort zone, push beyond the agenda, push beyond the convenience, push beyond our self-interest. When we do that, we are on the path to sacrificial love. Because love gives. So much blessing flows and many wounds are healed when we’re willing to extend ourselves beyond our self-interest. Like a telescope, we can telescopically push out our love beyond what is our comfort. When we do that, amazing things happen. One of the things that happen is we reap what we sow. We don’t only get the blessing of blessing, we get the blessing in a way that comes back to us in a different way. It’s an amazing thing.
In light of the fact that God calls us to extend our love, where is the Lord calling? In the circles of concern, where is the place that God is calling us to extend our love? Saying I need you to do a better job here? At work, in the home, with someone, we should be loving better and they’re bothering us? Where does that love show up? We’re going to shift it around now. Rusty’s going to share how we can apply it. Then we’ll have our time of giving and a closing song that connects perfectly with what we just shared. Rusty is going to talk about how we can tie what we’ve just shared, the practical everydayness of our life outside of these walls.
Rusty: What Pastor Terry just shared on the importance of loving and how Jesus is love is what our life platform should be built upon is essential for our life and faith. As we know, our faith is not just about our own belief in Jesus. We’re taught, in fact, we’re commissioned to spread the good news of Him to others. We are to apply our faith into, through, and out of our lives into the world. How do we do this in our everyday life that involves our work, families, friends, and communities? Let’s start with the word love and see if we can’t find ways to intentionally activate and apply ourselves. First, the letter L. Let’s say L is for like. You know, the Facebook kind of like. A like is something we can all do. Try providing a like that comes in the form of an acknowledgment of something. Maybe something well done to the teacher of your kids, or the person who worked on your car, or the garbage man. It doesn’t matter who, what matters is the acknowledgment. These might seem small on one hand, but on the other could have long lasting, maybe even life-changing impact
O is for offering. This O is about offering ourselves to others. Whether or not you know it, you have a lot to offer. Your time, your listening ears, your support, and your lending hand are all offerings that could be a powerful expression of love. It can feel like a risky business to make an offering. What if that offer is rejected, or what if I get taken advantage of? There are many, many reasons to extend an offer. We can build up others and we can strengthen ourselves. Maybe this week, the offering is about time. How about lunch with someone else rather than sitting at the desk eating alone? Or what about an hour to help someone else at work who could use an extra hand or an extra set of eyes? Think about offering your time to let someone vent and get a problem or two off their chest. You probably won’t have the solution to their problem, but that’s not what they expect anyway. They just need those nice listening ears.
V is for volunteering. Of course, there are many opportunities to volunteer and serve within our church. But volunteering can happen within our communities too. The opportunities are endless. When we raise our hand to volunteer at our kids’ schools or at a program for the disadvantaged or to help clean up our community, we’re modeling serving others and the giving of ourselves intentionally. To step forward and volunteer when others prefer to sit on the sidelines takes sacrifice. For those who need help, we become a gift. That gift is recognized as something very special. Many times, we don’t want to volunteer because we fear that we’re going to get pulled in for more and more. If we’re questioning if we should sacrifice enough to volunteer, then let’s ask ourselves, can we not model just a little bit from the one who gave the greatest sacrifice of all? All of this volunteering may well be the best way to better our ability to love.
Finally, the letter E. E is for encouraging. Wait, didn’t we just cover this in offering of ourselves? Yes. But encouraging is a bit different in that it requires us to be sensitive and recognize the needs of others. Recently, the CEO of a company I’m on the board of got five funding rejections in one day. She sent an email to the board with the news. At the end of the message, she said, “I’m having a bad day.” Having been there as a CEO, having been rejected before like that, I could feel her pain. I wrote back to her and the rest of the board that she and the team are great, and that if she keeps performing like she is, she’ll soon be the one turning down the investors. She wrote back saying, “Thank you. I really needed that.”
So why does any of this matter? Well, beyond that, if we apply our L-O-V-E to others, that we’re modeling the life that Christ lived, we’re also only increasing within ourselves God’s love. When love is given, it is not depleted within us. Instead, the more we express and give away our love, the more the love inside of us can increase. It is one natural resource that can never, ever run out. Let’s call this the L-O-V-E app, and let’s see how can we put it to great use this week.