Loving Others Means To Live Sacrificially
What I am about to share with my readers will not be accepted by anyone whether they are an unbeliever of a Christian living a life based on emotions. Great emotional feeling can come from the positive things written in the Bible; especially the blessings of God that are promised to his people. Sadly there are many who live this emotional spiritual life who are incapable or unwilling and even blind to the needs of those around them. I would go as far as to say that they are not living the Christian life at all, and what they believe to be their "Christian life experience" hardly resembles the genuine article.
Christ set the example for us to follow, and the Christian life that really counts is the way
of death to ourselves. This death to self was exemplified in Jesus who said; "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister and give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) Christianity in its essence is living a life of sacrifice and service for others that costs us in many ways and might even men giving our own life. It is a heroic, daunting task to live in the way the Savior did. Some of what is expected of us will be repulsive to us because we have a mindset to overcome that has prevailed in our lives for many years and there are things we love and want to keep that God expects us to give up for the sake of others and for his glory. Giving these things up is never easy, but neither was it easy for Jesus to give his life on Calvary for us. In the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed; "Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but
as you will." We know that he bore his cross an died and resurrected to bring salvation to us in spite of the cost that we will never fully understand. In doing so, he set the example for everyone who would take up his cause to bring hope and eternal life to a dying world.
In What Ways Can We Love Others?
When we see others in need it is a God-given opportunity to display the love of Christ and minister to their need so that they can see the reality of our relationship with Jesus and come to desire to know him as their Savior too. I head someone say once; "People won't care how much you say you love them until you show them you love them." It's one thing to talk the talk and quite something else to walk the walk.
In Matthew 25:31-40 Jesus gave some precise examples of ministry that he considered done to him even though they were done to someone else that he called "the least of these." Among those examples were feeding those who are hungry, visiting the sick, providing clothing to those who had none and visiting people in prison. The thing that deeply impressed me was that they didn't remember doing those deeds. Could it be that they were so absorbed in meeting the needs of others that they forgot about themselves?
I am certain that they had the kind of love that really counted and always will.
Other ways of showing love could include going to a foreign land and investing our lives for the sake of people who might not otherwise hear the gospel, selling our unnecessary possessions to provide for others both here and abroad or pouring our lives out for others without thought of recompense so that others might find the love of Christ themselves and experience his wonderful salvation and inherit eternal life. Of course the ultimate sacrifice would be to die, sacrificing our lives that others might find hope and salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Indeed; "To live is Christ; and to die is gain." -- Paul --
Love is not just a concept -- it's an action word!
A great minister of the gospel John Wesley is quoted to have said; "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can as long as every you can." Awesome words! Those are words depicting what love really is all about!
Loving others will cause us to act that love out! It is impossible to love someone and not show it without suppressing desire and frustrating yourself. Many of us have heard the saying, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Well, how in the world are people to know we care unless we do something to prove our love is more than just words? It is human nature to look out for number one, but for Christians it has to be imperative for us to realize that we are not number one. Neither are we number two as one online site would have us believe. True Christians are "servants" of the living God and their fellowman. It is noteworthy that servants don't live to please themselves. They live to please their master or Lord. Jesus Christ is the Master and Lord of all who claim to be Christians in truth. Anything less than that is deception. He didn't seek to please himself and neither should those who wish to emulate him. There is no justifiable reason for any Christian to be self-centered and self-pleasing. "Therefore glorify the Lord in your body and in your spirit which you have of God and YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN." That will be a new revelation for some who come to this page but we all need to know it.
There are plenty of ways that we can show love in the natural, and God has provided that we can also find ways to bless others in the realm of the supernatural. I am not talking about casting out demons or healing the sick, although that takes some self-sacrifice of a spiritual nature. I am speaking of setting aside our own preferences and desires for the sake of others. That is a supernatural act because it is not Natural for us. Believers
and unbelievers alike are self-centered and don't need to be taught to be so. Living for others without seeking some attention or a pat on the back just doesn't fit into the way we are mentally structured. Living solely for the honor and glory of God isn't part of natural thinking in sinful humanity either even after salvation. We have to grow into it and that takes supernatural life changing experiences and a lot of time and agony for some of us.
It is easy for some to give out of their abundance of material possessions and never enter into the suffering of others to empathize with them. They give simply because they have so much that the little they give is as nothing by comparison to what they could give. That is natural giving and doesn't impress God much if at all. Some give because they desire people to sit up and take notice of their giving because it gives them some recognition for it that they desire. Such giving is puerile and naive and requires no emotional attachment.
So What Is It That God Wants From Us?
The Bible teaches that God doesn't see as man sees for man only looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. God knows that none of us has the kind of love in ourselves that is pleasing to him and sacrificial for us. To make up for our deficiencies God imparts his love "supernaturally" to us by the power of the Holy Spirit and enables us to love as he does. Understand that God never gives a gift to anyone who doesn't, in all honestly, desire it. Remember he is searching our hearts when we come to him. We are not and never will be able to fool him about anything. The Bible says God will take our stony heart and make it a heart of flesh; that is to say a heart that is filled with his love and tenderness. It is that love that will flow from him through us to meet the needs around us even when it is the most inconvenient. His love alone will empower us to live this out.
God receives great pleasure in us when we give of ourselves with no thought of getting anything in return -- not even a thank you. Nobody thanked Jesus as he hung bleeding and dying on the cross even though he died for everyone standing in the crowd below him. If we intend to be like Jesus it will cost us something. The blessing in that is that when we allow the Lord to enable us to die to ourselves and our own desires we soon understand that it is a wonderful and blessed way to live. Others will see that we mean business and some will turn to Christ. I believe that is the most important thing we can give to anyone!