Love and Generosity

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
(Matthew 5:6-7)

When our church wrapped up a sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, we received challenges from our pastor on how what we had heard should show up in our lives. One of those challenges was on loving our neighbors and how we give to others.

Note: As important as it is to love our families well, today’s focus is on love and generosity outside the home. 

Do our lives contain regular instances of mercy and giving and caring for others in our community? Do we set aside resources and make time to love as Jesus loved? Are we living as children of God?

Sinclair Ferguson points out in The Sermon on the Mount when discussing the verses above, “…once we have discovered that we have no resources to save ourselves, we learn to look elsewhere — to Christ — to meet our needs, and also to meet the needs of the world in which we live.” Children of God have abundant access to what we and others need. We are not called to keep that to ourselves.

It is easy to see needs around us. So much is broken; so much is disturbingly wrong. We can throw up our hands in despair, or we can drop to our knees in prayer and service. Our hands can help with healing and restoration. Not only can they help, but also God’s people should have hands that help.

The internet is full of ideas and suggestions. If we take a few minutes with a willing heart, we can easily come up with possibilities suited for just our situation, resources, and abilities. How will we love our neighbor today?

Watch for Whiplash

Full of love for our neighbor, we ask in a difficult time: “How can I help you?”

In an effort to make our husband’s priorities our own priorities, we ask, “What would you like me to get done today?”

Out of love for a good friend, we share, “I’d do anything to help you right now. What can I do?”

These offers of service are a great way to focus on loving our neighbors. We are asking for the best way to do that. Then we can do what helps the most.

And then…

The answer comes.

And then…

It doesn’t quite fit with what we were hoping, or expecting, or desiring to do that day or week. We really wanted to get some baking done that afternoon, but the neighbor asked for an errand run instead of fresh cookies. The hallway closet desperately needed an overhaul, but he wanted some research done and there isn’t time for both between other responsibilities. The help needed is a big inconvenience or a drastic change in the day.

We can prepare our schedules to leave room for service, but our hearts need to be prepared just as much. When the I didn’t really want to do THAT kicks in, we can be ready to immediately speak truth to ourselves. Before we ask, we can be braced for the whiplash that may come.

Don’t get pulled away from what is right so easily. Pray for strength to fight for love before, during, and after. Remind yourself of what you are called to do. Motivate yourself by reflecting on how you have been blessed.

Note: Sometimes we are simply unable to fill a request. Responsibility conflicts happen. The comments above are about the attitude conflicts — when we can do it but just don’t want to. Pray for wisdom to see clearly and know the difference between what can be done and what is a legitimate obstacle.