"And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
Here at Engraved on His Palm Ministries, we not only love to talk about God and how to grow in faith; our entire ministry's goal is to show believers, young and old, how to live out their faith in the world. From helping those in need to shopping with a conscious and even loving the environment, there are so many things we can do to show our faith to those around us... and ultimately, the culmination of that faith is LOVE and more specifically, the love of Christ flowing through us and then out to others. So, today, we are going to embark on part one of a two part discussion on how we should show such love in the world - starting with showing it in our homes.
How do we show Christ's love in our homes. I honestly think this is one of the most challenging areas to show God's love. At home, with your loved ones, you are your best self; but you are also your worst self. Your family can lift you up, but they can also tear you down. The people that know the most about you, often drive you to your breaking point. I have felt this and I'm sure you have too. Frustration boils over or agitation sets in and you lose your cool. You shout, you say things you don't mean, you put someone down, and you most likely cry as a result. It was certainly not Christ's love that you have shown and now you wonder how, being filled with the Holy Spirit, you can be so bad at being a Christian. Don't worry, everyone has been there. It doesn't mean that you are a bad Christian (only that you are so painfully human). Nonetheless, let's talk about some of the ways we can show Christ's love at home.
This is probably the first step in any attempt to show Christ's love in the world, and it is especially important in the home. When people know each other so well and are around one another so frequently, there are bound to be hurts. Maybe you have hurt someone in your home, Maybe you have been hurt by someone. Most often, these hurts are unintentional results of friction caused by close proximity. They were never meant to happen. They came about because of a fight or something going wrong. You might even live in too small of a space and you are essentially living on top of one another. Where ever the hurt began, we have a choice to make it right. So, we love like Christ by forgiving. This isn't about if the other person is really sorry, (we all know that we aren't always sorry about our sins that took Jesus to the grave) it's about the love Jesus shows in spite of our desire to repent. Romans 5:8 (NIV) says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Going the extra mile
When Jesus shows His love for us, He does so by doing more than what is asked of Him. When He turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, He made it GREAT wine, not just normal wine (John 2:1-12). When Jesus died for our sins, He died for even the worst sins we could commit. This is how we want to be at home. We don't just want to do the dishes, we want to make dinner AND do the dishes. We don't just want to clean up the yard, we want to clean up the yard and plant some flowers. We don't just want to not say that mean thing we want to say, we want to say something NICE instead. Jesus's love is about going the extra mile for those around us.
Keep Your Mouth Shut
When Jesus was being accused, He remained silent (Matthew 26:63). This one is usually pretty tough for me. When someone wants to fight with us or attacks us in some way, we have the urge to fight back. I know I do! But, that's not how we love like Jesus. Loving like Jesus sometimes means that we just take it and don't react, especially when we know our reaction will cause a big commotion. We diffuse the situation, because we know we can spare others (and ourselves) a lot of regret and pain if we can just leave it alone. In doing so, we love like Jesus.
Remember, You Are Not Perfect
You are going to mess up. You are going to yell or be hurtful, or not feel like going the extra mile. It happens, but that doesn't mean that you can give up on loving like Christ. We need to try again, everyday. Making one or two mistakes does not mean that you aren't Christian; it just means you are human.We show Christ's love in our homes by saying sorry, by messing up, and resolving to love even better. We show Christ's love in our attempts to be more like Him each and everyday.
Showing Christ's love in the world is a crucial part of living out our faith. This can be especially hard when faced with the realities and hardships of relationships with the home. It won't be perfect, or easy, but as we work harder to love better, we will find that we can be an example of Christ to those we know best. Next time, we will embark on part two of this discussion as we we talk about showing Christ's love to the community and even to all corners of the globe!