Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
At a Toby Mac concert, his drummer shared a story of a man who had three kids with three different women. He wasn’t a present father in their lives and was a mess of a human. The Diverse City band loved him when he was broken and didn’t deserve it. They showed him the love of Christ through their actions and led him to the Lord. He then revealed he was that man. It reminded me of a quote from Mark Batterson’s book “If” that has hit home with me. He wrote, “Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it. That’s how you change someone’s life forever.”
When I think of that quote, I think of what God has done for each of us. At our worst, He still loved us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). God didn’t wait for you and I to clean ourselves up and to start living right before He demonstrated His love for us. He did it while we were covered in the filth of sin. He did it when we were living in rebellion to His way of life.
He expects us to demonstrate that kind of love to others. He expects us to love those who least deserve it. 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]” (AMP). The more we love others when they least deserve it (the way God loves us), the more we get to know who He is.
After the Toby Mac concert, I went to find the drummer. He was taking photos with fans and signing autographs. He looked each person in the eye and said, “I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it!” I smiled when I heard him say it and thought, “That’s exactly what God says to each of us.” We’ve got to get to the point where we love others no matter who they are, how they live, or what they do. If we’re truly interested in changing lives and winning souls, it starts with loving people where they are.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
We’ve all heard the saying that actions speak louder than words. We can probably all think of someone who is all talk and no action too. We have very little confidence in people who rarely do what they say. You never know when to believe them. I’ve had friends, coworkers and acquaintances who are like this. It’s no fun to be associated with them because it creates a lack of trust in you as a person. I don’t ever want to be known as a person like that. I want to be known as a person who does what they say or can at least own up to it when I can’t deliver on what I promised.
As Christians, we need to be concerned about our reputation because we don’t just carry our name with us. We also bear the name of Jesus Christ. It’s not just our reputation we’re tarnishing, it’s His. Knowing that, our lives should reflect the work He’s done and is doing in our lives. The love He’s shown us should be something we give out each day. 1 John 3:18 says, “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality“ (MSG).
A life lead by love is one that doesn’t just talk about loving others, it does it. It shows up in the smallest ways throughout our day. Too many times we try to think of doing great things to the point that it keeps us from doing anything. I love the quote by Mother Teresa that says, “We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” If you and I will focus on doing small things today, showing God’s great love, we will make a difference in the lives of others. Doing great things isn’t what makes the difference in life. It’s doing the small things consistently. Today, look for something small you can do with great love, and bless someone.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
In light of all the recent events and tragedies, I’ve been asked numerous times for my thoughts on them. I refer them to 2 Timothy 3 and Matthew 24. It’s no surprise to God, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to us that all of this is going on. Some of the things those two chapters tell us are that in the last days, people will be greedy, they will consider nothing sacred they will be unloving and unforgiving, they will easily be offended, there will be earthquakes, sin will be rampant, and the love of many will grow cold.
Those two chapters paint a perfect picture of where we are right now. I highly encourage you to go back and read them. I prefer reading them in the New Living Translation. The point is this: we, as Christians, can be shocked and offended that all of this is going on or we can get an urgency to be about the Father’s business. We can choose to fight what God said would happen (which is what I see many doing) or we can understand what’s going on and do something about it.
In Matthew 24, right after it describes today’s world, it then tells us that the Gospel will be preached throughout the world so that all nations would hear it. That’s what I think we need to be doing instead of getting into arguments. Our mission has not changed since the Great Commission was given. It’s just become more critical and more urgent. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer” (GNT).
Now, more than ever, the world needs to see us showing what love is. They need to see us doing good and meeting together. Let’s not be afraid and upset over where the world has gone, but rather let it be an encouraging sign to us that we are almost home. Let’s show love to those whom we disagree with by doing good to them and for them. In doing so, we open up doors to communicate the Gospel so that the whole world will hear and have the opportunity to be saved. That is what our final mission is.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”? I can’t remember the first time I heard it, but I’m sure it was my parents after I’d apologized for something I’d done multiple times. They knew that saying, “I’m sorry” was different than being sorry. There was no power in my words if there was no will in my spirit. Without being sorry, they were merely empty words. There was no guarantee that I wouldn’t do it again. My parents wanted to be able to trust my words, but until they could, they watched my actions.
When I was a sales manager, I had to forecast my projections each week to my boss. I would sit on a call as we went from store to store with each manager saying what their store would do. The longer the call went on, the higher the numbers went. Each store would give a bigger number so as not to be outdone. When it came to me, I would always break the trend and give a reasonable number. I took flack for it on the call each week, but I felt it was better to be able to back up my words.
Some people would rather look good now by what they say and sacrifice their reputation long term by their actions. That’s not God’s way. I John 3:18 says, “Our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love which shows itself in action. (GNB)” It’s easy to say we love others because that’s the right thing to say. It’s completely different to sacrifice what you want for what someone else wants. That’s what love does. It’s choice after choice and action after action that shows whether or not we truly love others.
So many times we are like the managers on those calls where we say the right thing or what we think others want to hear, but we rarely back it up. We use the right jargon and impress people with what we say, but God is looking for more than words. He’s looking at our heart. He’s watching what we do. It’s not just God who is doing that, others are too. They’re basing their idea of Christianity off of the way you and I live each day. They’re listening to our words and watching our actions and we already know which of those is louder.
One of my favorite quotes of all time came from St. Francis of Asisi. He said, “Preach at all times. Use words whenever necessary.” He understood that our lives preach what we believe more than our words ever will. What we do matters more than what we say. We don’t need to sacrifice our reputation or message for temporary acceptance. Live a lifestyle of love and let your actions do the talking for you. That’s the message of i John 3:18.