Galatians 6:2 NIVUK
An important part of loving others is being there for them when they are going through tough times. God designed us to live in community and to help each other out. The Bible says, ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ We should be aiming to help people cope and grow through the situation they’re facing. One way we can do this is by encouraging them to talk about things, giving a different perspective, and offering hope. We can ask God to give us the words to say and to show us His promises throughout the Bible which we can share with others. If we’re people who like to fix situations, or easily feel responsible for others, it can be tricky to ‘carry each other’s burdens’ without taking on too much, feeling under pressure, and burning out. It’s only God who can truly fix people’s problems, so we can help people by reminding them that God’s always there to help them. When we’re going through a crisis, we can focus too much on the problem and not enough on God. In Psalm 121 it says, ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth’ (vv.1-2 NIV). We can remind people to lift their eyes to God. It’s also important to continue caring for the person when the immediate crisis is over. Just because an illness has healed, a funeral has finished, or the person appears to be coping better, doesn’t mean that they no longer need our support and love. Loving others is so much more than just being there through their tough times, it’s supporting them through life.
1 Kings 3-5; Mark 7:24-37; Ps 93; Prov 11:30-31
Galatians 6:1 NKJV
We are too quick to criticize people because of what they’ve been through in life. In some cases it’s because of what they have done to others, and in some cases because of what others have done to them. If you’ve been to a consignment store you know there are quality items at discounted prices; you just have to know what you’re looking for. Jesus does. In His eyes the down-and-out may be “down” but they’re not “out.” Peter’s sorrow over denying Jesus ran so deep that he decided to go back to his old job as a fisherman. Can you imagine the scuttlebutt around the harbor? “That’s him, the guy who turned his back on Jesus.” Peter eventually became the leader of the New Testament church. But be honest. Would you have voted him in as your pastor, or been willing to listen to anything he had to say? Yet the first person Jesus went looking for after He rose from the dead was Peter. Why? Because He looks beyond our immediate problem and sees our long-term potential. Jesus remembered the words He had spoken to Peter: “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32 NKJV). The foundational principle of practicing medicine is “First, do no harm.” When someone is damaged, don’t damage them further. Love them, pray for them, and seek to restore them.
Soul food: Titus 1-3; Mark 6:1-13; Ps 150; Prov 11:16-18
Matthew 5:46-47 NCV
Jon Walker writes: “Send picture and I’ll reply…it’s a common message in personal ads and it makes sense in this day and age to exercise caution…But when it comes to loving others, do you find yourself saying: Send picture first? We all say it in different ways…’I have to see if you’re good enough…I’m not sure you’re worthy of my love…You need to act the way I expect before I’ll love you.'” It’s time we stopped “evaluating [people] by what the world thinks” (2 Corinthians 5:16 TLB). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Your Father in heaven…causes the sun to rise on good people and…evil people…he sends rain to those who do right and…those who do wrong. If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God [do that]…you must be perfect [mature] just as your Father in heaven is” (Matthew 5:45-48 NCV). God’s love toward us is “perfect” because it is unconditional, nonjudgmental, and comes with no strings attached. The Bible says when we were His enemies, “[He] showed his great love…by sending Christ to die for us” (Romans 5:8 NLT). So, is there someone in your life who hurt you and now you’re having a hard time loving them? If so, pray: “Father, I’m struggling to love [fill in the name]. Help me to let go of judging and blaming, and begin to love them the way You love me.”
Soul food: 2 Thes 1-3; Luke 20:9-19; Ps 18:30-50; Prov 8:32-33
Matthew 5:47 NCV
We can often find ourselves loving those who we like, the people we’re friends with, the ones who are most like us, and the ones who we think are easy to love. But if we’re trying to become more like Jesus, we need to stop thinking about people the way that the world thinks about them (have a read of 2 Corinthians 5:16). God’s love doesn’t change depending on what we do, or don’t do. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, ‘Your Father in heaven…causes the sun to rise on good people and…evil people…he sends rain to those who do right and…those who do wrong. If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God [do that]…you must be perfect [mature] just as your Father in heaven is’ (Matthew 5:45-48 NCV). God’s love towards us is ‘perfect’ because it is unconditional and non-judgmental. The Bible says when we were His enemies, ‘[He] showed his great love…by sending Christ to die for us’ (Romans 5:8 NLT). And we need to make sure that we’re loving others without judging them too. The Bible says: ‘Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love…if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another’ (1 John 4:8,11 ESV). It couldn’t be clearer – we’re called to love others as God loves us. So let’s try and show His love to everyone, not just those we find easy to love.
2 Thes 1-3; Luke 20:9-19; Ps 18:30-50; Prov 8:32-33
Jeremiah 32:33 NIV
Most of us like to help others. We hear about their problems and then we want to do something to help them. But sometimes we’ll come across people that we can’t help – at least not right now. So let’s take a look at the sort of people who we can struggle to help: 1) People who keep making excuses. We can’t help someone until they’re willing to take responsibility for their life and want to make a change. If people won’t take the advice in the Bible, then they probably won’t take ours either. Notice what God said about the Israelites: ‘Though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond.’ If they won’t listen to God, our opinion won’t make much of a difference. 2) People who move in the wrong circles. The Bible says, ‘Bad company corrupts good character’ (1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT). The company we keep influences our conduct and character, and those two things can affect our future. There can be people who simply don’t belong in our lives, and we can’t move forward until we break the link that connects us and get away from their influence. 3) People who blame God for their problems. When trouble comes, they ask, ‘Why did God allow this to happen to me?’ But the truth is, we’ll never see God as our solution until we stop seeing Him as the cause of our problem. When we come across people who don’t want to be helped, it doesn’t mean we should give up on them completely. We can still be there for them, love them, and pray for them, but it’s just important to recognise when we should stop trying to offer advice and solutions, and ask God to open their hearts to receive help.
Exo 36-38; Luke 15:1-10; Ps 27; Prov 7:10-20