Posted on June 25, 2021
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Life is hard enough on us without us being hard on ourselves. Continually criticizing your performance and worth will wear you down, and the kindness you withhold from yourself, you will eventually withhold from others. It’s time to put down your weapons and learn to practice being kind to yourself.
Christ has set us free to flourish in the fruits of the Spirit Paul listed in his letter to the Galatians. We cannot live out kindness in its true form apart from Christ. But within His love, we can learn to let kindness flow in and through our lives, fully, and expectantly. The wise King Solomon wrote, “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor”(Proverbs 21:21). To pursue kindness, we must pursue Christ. Kindness develops in us as our hearts are sanctified in Him.
Here are four habits every follower of Christ must practice in themselves to allow this fruit of the Spirit to flow outward to those around them.
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Posted on January 8, 2021
Think about someone you struggle to like. I bet it doesn’t take long for someone to float to the surface of your mind. This could be a neighbor, colleague, family member – anyone whose personality might not mesh so well with ours, or whose history is a messy tangled in our own.
We know what God’s word says – we’re to strive to love all, not just like the people we don’t prefer to be around… God calls us to the radical way of love. But what does that look like, to love those whose company we find grating, whose personality we don’t mess well with?
Here are 5 very practical, simple ways to begin to love the people you struggle to like:
Posted on March 27, 2019
“Friends with Everyone” is the quest to love people in our lives well. God places people in our lives purposefully. As Christians, we are called to reach outside of our comfort zones in order to serve the people bordering our everyday lives.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.
To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.
I have become all tings to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV (emphasis mine.)
Love finds common ground. Paul isn’t advising us to change for people in these verses. He’s challenging us to find common ground with the people in our lives. There is common ground to be found. It’s not an easy quest. There are lines we will be tempted to cross and company we wish would could keep closer. We will be called to ruffle a few feathers in righteousness. We will be left out, called out, questioned, and ridiculed. Being friends with everyone requires us to flip all of the hurt into forgiveness, and trust God with transformation.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV
We wouldn’t die for someone that hurt us. We wouldn’t die for someone who didn’t apologize for the hurt they caused …and we surely wouldn’t die for someone intent upon hurting us again. Jesus did. Compassion and kindness come from Him. All of us continue to fall short every day, yet the forgiveness Jesus died to grant us, to go before us and pave for us, isn’t effected by our inability to overcome the broken world we live in. He has already defeated what we could …and cannot. It. Is. Done. A true understanding of forgiveness breaks the cycle of hurt and allows the love of Christ to flow through our lives.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV
I believe we take this verse out of context when we use it as an excuse to shun people who are different from us. What good is all of our wisdom about Christ, if we hide from the people that don’t know what we know? Like Paul, through adversity …seek diversity. But we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He was friends with everyone, without sacrificing His mission.
Jesus had a close group of twelve friends, and out them three were extremely close to Jesus. Still one, John, was Jesus’ best friend on earth. We’re clearly called to choose our close circle of friends with care, but leave the door open. May our light reflect His Love.
I shudder to think of all the rich friendships I would have missed out on, had I not decided to leave my Monday morning Bible Study group open to anyone. Whether or not they go to church or believe in God is between them and Him. Our job is to open the door and share what we know.
“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious- don’t get infected.” Proverbs 22:24-25 MSG
The more friends we have, the greater the risk of getting hurt. Learning how to survive devastating blows to our character and create healthy boundaries is all part of the package. Can I tell you something? It’s through our reaction to those situations that our faith is put on display the most.
Loving the people in our lives well leads us to brotherly and sisterly love. As we grow in wisdom and away from the lessons of our past, God is faithful to provide friends that are racing towards Christ alongside us. Never take these friends for granted. These are the best friends. The ones who don’t get all awkward and subject-change when we start to talk about Jesus. No, these are the friends who lean in to learn alongside of us. Every broken hearted moment is worth it to find these people in life. But we can’t stay there.
We are called to be friends with everyone.
Posted on March 12, 2019
“Breaking the Power of Negative Words,” by Mary Busha
“In it’s purest form, supernatural is ‘something attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or laws of nature.’ It’s the supernatural transforming of our hearts and minds by God that allows us to forgive others the way He forgives us.” Mary Busha, “Breaking the Power of Negative Words.”
“Breaking the Power of Negative Words” addresses the damage we stand to do if we do not curb what comes out of our mouths. So many are suffering from words spoken to them in their formative years and beyond, with Busha brilliantly addresses and explains. With examples from her own life and many well-known people throughout history, she is able to paint a very clear picture of how words spoken by others …especially those close to us …can attach themselves to our self-image.
Throughout the book, which is well-organized and intent on repeating the main principles in breaking the power negative words can have, the author replaces many commons lies we are tempted to absorb as truth with the actual truth God compliments us with in the Bible. Rooted in Scripture and other sound research, the author gives her readers many practical tools to take into their everyday lives.
As a mother of two young daughters, I took all of the advice this book had to offer straight to heart and prayer over my life. Forgiving forward concerning our parents has become a motto of mine, and this book further cemented the virtue and value of forgiveness and compassion for hurt people who hurt people.
Sometimes a bit too repetitive, the concept worked, because I remember and am able to practically apply so much of this book to my everyday life right away. The stories are easy to relate to and the advice is practical and Biblically bound.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been hurt by negative words. I urge all parents to read it, as further affirmation that what we say has a ripple effect …both good and bad.
“The problem is that the tongue is connected to the heart. Whatever is in the heart will eventually pour out of the mouth. So the words our tongues utter are a direct reflection of what’s goin on inside us.” Mary Busha, “Breaking the Power of Negative Words.”
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)
Posted on December 31, 2018
“How great is God? Beyond our understanding.” Job 36:26
This last entry of the year has me staring at a cold cup of coffee, at 2 pm in the afternoon. Many cups of coffee have gone cold sitting here in pursuit of spreading the encouraging love of Jesus. Throughout the year, I just kept warming it back up. I didn’t give up and dump it out. I never gave up on this devo series. THAT …is a miracle.
I proudly wore Jonah as my favorite Bible character until I grew to understand that he ran from God. From then on I deemed him a “how could he do that” and crossed him off the “favorites” list.
But someone once told me that what we criticize we often struggle with ourselves.
I’m a total runner.
Today’s verse is from Job. Job and I became buddies this year. I watched him suffer at the hand of tragedy and sickness and mistreatment from friends. It was all so unwarranted. Why couldn’t that have happened to Jonah?
But wait …that’s me.
We’re reminded in today’s verse that we can’t outrun God’s love. We can’t even understand where it begins and where it ends, let alone how to scathe it.
I deserve the kind of sufferring that Job endured. We all deserve the suffering that sin negates. When we don’t get what we deserve, we are the first to cry, “no fair!” But when we claim something we didn’t earn, there is a hesitation. When we receive too much change at the restaurant, or find a wad of money on the ground at the amusement park, or see a friend getting teased or hear them getting thrown under the bus. Something in us knows we have a chance, in those moments, to do the right thing.
“Thank you so much!” the man replied to my daughter, as she handed him a hug wad of rolled up cash that had fallen out of his pocket on his way to sit down and eat lunch. She came back to the table with a smile on her face.
“It feels so good to help someone out like that, doesn’t it” I asked her.
“Yep,” she said.
“You know, not everyone would have done the same thing,” I told her, “I’m so proud of you.”
We have the chance to do the right thing, to stick it out, to stop talking, to hug someone that’s hurting, to pick up the money and give it back. And when that happens, we are doing what we’re put on this earth to do. Love people.
It’s never a coincidence that we notice.
Life happens to let Jesus be known. When we’re cold, He will warm us back up. We notice ways to be kind because that is the key to warming our lives. A warm cup of coffee is joy to my soul. A warm act of kindness is Jesus’ love on earth. Coffee can always be warmed up, and so can we. We just need to keep going, keep looking around, keep noticing…
Father, Praise You for giving us more than we deserve. Thank You for Job, who teaches us how to suffer well, even when it’s not deserved. Forgive us for turning a blind eye when we “notice” an opportunity to love in Your name. Bless us to live lives full of noticing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace!
Happy New Year,
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