Caring for others selflessly.
I think mothers all around can relate to this one. Because how many times have we risen in the middle of the night to kiss a forehead, find a paci, give a drink of water? How many times have we held a sick child all day? Changed dirty diapers? Spoon fed a squirmy infant?
But where else does this apply? I look at my sister, and how she’s put the needs of her home and family second to mine. She has shown up every day since November 10th, when my water broke, to care for my house and my kids and even me. I remember my grandmother, “Paw”, who cared for her husband when he was in the end stages of cancer. She just did it, without complaint and with praise on her lips.
Loving your enemies.
This one is hard, but God isn’t joking about it. In Matthew, He tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And you enemies might not be who you think they are. Enemies are not always dastardly characters who obviously and overtly mean us harm. They can be the unhealthy family member that drives you crazy. They can be the co-worker that gets on your nerves. They can be the PTA mom that you secretly envy. They can be anyone that you don’t have the warm fuzzies for. If someone is seriously on your last nerve…time to start praying blessings over that person.
Doing for others, even if it costs you.
Sometimes we are busy and sometimes we are distracted and sometimes we don’t have time to make a meal for someone else. We’re up to our eyeballs with our own kids and families and we just don’t have the emotional resources, much less the financial resources to pitch in for another family. I would humbly suggest that really, we do and we can but we don’t want to. We have busy, crowded lives and sometimes no rolls off of the tongue before we really think it through and try to make it happen. Let’s stop saying no so much and just do it. Even if we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel. We have more margin in our lives than we think, but sometimes we’d rather do what we want more than what is needed.
Working towards the greater good, even if it means not getting what you want.
Sometimes, we have to do things we aren’t comfortable with, things we just don’t want to do for the good of our family or friends. I think about my husband and how last year he tutored a homebound student for extra money. He did this every day of the week and it put him getting home around 7:00 or 7:30. He did this for the good of our family, even though it meant he had no time for anything but work, tutoring and a short burst of kid time in the evening. This is part of loving selflessly. Like Jesus loves us.
Remembering your loved ones.
I have a new philosophy since my experiences in November. If you are feeling a particular positive thing or remembering something sweet or even something tragic…share that with the person you’re thinking of. Tell your friends and family that you love them. Send cards, texts, emails and Facebook messages. Say the truth to your friends and family. I remember when a friend of mine passed away and there were so many things I’d never said to her. We weren’t even on great terms when she passed away and this friend of mine was so dear to me. I would do anything to go back in time and be the first one to say I’m sorry, to say I love you and you’re valuable to me. Don’t let the humdrum, day to day rob you of opportunity to love on your people.
This is part of how we build love with God. This is part of how we love our family and friends well. This is something that changes the world.
Saying I’m sorry.
Believe it or not, those two words do not cost as much as you think. And they are an investment that gives back ten fold. Being willing to say I’m sorry, regardless of who was at fault or how you feel is a sure sign of loving well. A humble and sincere “I’m sorry” can change everything.
Not needing to be right.
My flesh so resists this one. But it’s true. Even if you are absolutely, positively sure that the other is wrong and you are right…let it go. Lay it down. In the grand scheme of things…does it matter?
I feel so strongly about this because I’ve seen it bear so much fruit in my life. I think it’s important to God. He reminds us to care for the widow and the orphan. (James 1:27) He instructs us about giving to our church family and how to sow our resources into the kingdom. This is one of those things that God does- as we give, He gives. The more we give, the more He gives. And I believe He takes even our smallest offering and multiplies it. Remember the woman who gave her very last penny? As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
Doing, not just saying.
This seems so simple, but it isn’t really. Our current culture makes it hard to do and not just say. Think aobut it, ten years ago, if a person was in need, you got in your car and went to them. Now, it’s easy (and often a wonderful blessing) to just check on Facebook and leave your prayers and good thoughts there. Facebook is great for that. It’s also great for keeping in touch on a surface level. But friends still need to do. Don’t just say, “Let me know if you need anything.” Say, “I want to help. What specific thing can I do for you?” Or…just go crazy and DO something. Show up.
Sharing the love of Jesus, without condemnation.
I think some Christians have a harder time with this than others. So quickly, we go to judgement over sins we can’t relate to. So quickly, we speak harshly and without love to those we don’t agree with. This is not the love Jesus has called us to. Our job is to share how He’s changed us, how His love flows through us, how we’re better with Him than without Him. Slamming someone’s life is not how to do that. Let’s share the real Jesus and the Holy Spirit will do the convicting.
Speaking life, letting go of negativity.
I was talking with some friends the other day and one said, “It’s so much easier to vent and complain than it is to share the good things.” And she is right. I can go on and on about something that bothers me, but the good things don’t get nearly as much conversation. In the same vein, it’s easier for me to point out John’s weaknesses (ad nauseam) than to praise his good points (which actually far outweigh the bad). Why do we do this? Why is negativity easier? I went on a negativity fast this time last year and was amazed by how many thoughts I had to take captive, how many words I had to choke back, how many negative emotions I had throughout each day.
Living a life of worship and gratitude.
Well, you knew gratitude would make it into this post. Living a life of worship and gratitude? How do we do it? By being thankful every day. By giving as though our resources are His and not ours. By giving our spouses the love and respect that God has asked us to give, no matter what the circumstances. By training up our children in the way they should go. By being good stewards of our things and of our people. By singing praises when we feel like crying. By getting out of bed and whispering thanks, even when we’re too tired to breathe. By joining in and being a part of the body of Christ…serving others, loving others, giving our lives away for the cause of Christ.
I am in love with this list. I want to write and write and write on each point because there is so much there. I hope you’ll share your thoughts on what we’ve come up with and tell me what things you’re doing to increase your love!