Do you have a heart for serving the needy around you? I think many of us do. Let me suggest 4 principles that we should consider when praying for opportunities to love our neighbor and the world around us.
Abiding: How is your love for Jesus? The Bible calls us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. The two greatest commandments (Matt. 22:34-40) Loving our neighbor as ourselves is the expression or overflow of our love of God. The first commandment (love God) is the basis for the second commandment (love neighbor), here’s how. Before you make your own desires (loving yourself) the measuring stick for loving others (love your neighbor AS yourself), make God the primary focus of all your desires (the first commandment).
Loving God with all your heart means: Finding in God a satisfaction so deep that it fills up every aspect and part of your being. Let God be the Lord of your life (decisions, actions, needs etc). Seek him and dwell in His presence daily. When God becomes the source of your joy and the fulfillment of your longings, the way you love others will be forever changed. Abiding with God is the foundation for a rich and pure motivation for loving your neighbor.
Pray: “Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Col. 4:2) The only way to fully see and understand the opportunities that God gives you to serve the needy is to be in-tune with the Spirit of God. We must be people of prayer. We must be watchful: aware of local needs and discerning about how to help. We must be thankful: filled with the joy of the Lord and ready to show and share God’s goodness.
The more we dedicate ourselves to prayer the more we will be aware of who God desires us to be in our service to the poor. Prayer humbles, motivates, convicts, and prepares Christ followers for a missional lifestyle of service.
Intentionality: Most opportunities for serving the needy don’t fall right into our laps. We need to be people of intentionality. Are you actively trying to get to know your neighbors? Are you studying, learning and asking questions about what needs exist in your community? Are you seeking to get to know people’s stories?
There is no way on earth that we can earn a relationship with Jesus Christ through good deeds. But because we have a relationship with Jesus Christ we are to be intentional about doing good deeds. Many of the opportunities that we have to show and speak the truth of Jesus Christ come through intentionality. They come through putting ourselves in a position to know people deeply and serve them in their needs.
Space: Are you leaving time in your schedule for other people? Is there open space in your daily and weekly routine to focus on others? Many of us live in a culture of business. Our lives are filled with activities (good and bad), entertainment and overall selfish ambition. We fill our days with a focus on ourselves (or our kids) and leave little room or space to focus on the needs around us.
Creating and fostering relationships with the needy takes time. Leaving space could mean cutting back on “good” things in order to create time for the “better” things.
How are you doing in these things? Our ability to reach the world around us begins in our own individual heart.Image courtesy of Earls37a / Flickr.com