Archive

Posts Tagged ‘John 13:34-35’

Hospitality

March 11th, 2013

“Be . . given to hospitality.” Romans 12:13 NKJV.

Hospitality begins with the room you make in your heart and life for others.

My wife, Gayle, has a gift in abundance – the gift of hospitality. She is the consummate hostess. What she does, she does because of her personal conviction that “nice matters.” When we built our house, the guest quarters were designed specifically for the comfort and enjoyment of our friends, private, comfortable, welcoming, and decorated in a classic English Manor decor. Our home is a place for family and friends to enjoy and find comfort.

When friends are coming, Gayle prepares especially for that particular guest, providing their favorite snacks, coffees, drinks, and fresh flowers – chocolates for Rick (Peeps if at Easter), flavored coffees for Thea, M&Ms for Andrew, or olives for Anita. She learns the likes of our friends and graciously hosts them with personal touches that esteem and serve them. Her gift begins in her generous heart, then finds expression in practical, personal ways.

Among an exemplary list of normal expressions of Christian conduct – without hypocrisy, kind affection, giving preference, diligent, fervent, serving, rejoicing, hopeful, patient, praying steadfastly, giving to others’ needs – Paul concludes, “Let love be . . given to hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 NKJV. Now who would expect “hospitality” to finish such a list of spiritual behaviors? Yet there it is, an expectation of everyday Christian life.

Hospitality is a significant, Biblical concept demonstrating real community – the fitting expression of spiritual fellowship that is so much more than social entertainment. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7 NIV. Biblical acceptance is inclusive, offered to others without constraint as God extends grace and acceptance to you through Jesus Christ, His Son and your Savior. See John 13:34-35 NIV.

Hospitality is the Godly sharing of who you are and what you have with others. “Therefore, as you have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 NKJV. You have kindness to share, love to give, encouragement to offer, or a burden to bear.

Hospitality is the act of opening your heart to generously include others warmly and sincerely. I enjoy the Old Testament story of a “notable woman” in Shunem and her hospitality toward Elisha. Read 2 Kings 4:8-11 NKJV. She is notable in Scripture because she was “given to hospitality.” Recognizing that Elisha was a man of God, she and her husband built a room especially for the itinerant Elisha, “a place to stay whenever he comes by.” I see the quality of hospitality in her carefulness to provide all that her guest would require – a bed for rest, a table and chair for refreshment, and a lamp for light. Hospitality does not have to be extravagant; it will be practical and beneficial. True hospitality begins with the room you make in your heart and life for others.

Hospitality is the art of making others feel welcome and “at home.” Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you . . I will come again to receive you unto Myself that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-6 NKJV. A prepared place specifically for you, eternally. Now that’s Heaven’s hospitality.

My prayer for you today is that you relate to others with openness and acceptance.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Love’s True Expression

August 1st, 2011

“Love is patient and kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4 NLT

Loving others begins with the Christian civility of patience and kindness.”

My thoughts today are about “love’s true expression.”

The Bible warns, “Quick! Catch all the little foxes before they ruin the vineyard of your love.” Song of Solomon 2:15 NLT. Marriages, friendships, and even business relationships are not as commonly damaged by big things like dishonesty or disloyalty as by little things, like taking one another for granted, or disrespect, ingratitude, or ongoing criticism and complaint. It‘s those small inconsistencies that may appear negligible when they occur, but are relationally destructive as they accumulate.

They are eventually harmful because such attitudes and actions stand in stark contrast to love; such little irritations grow in the fertile soil of impatience with others and its resulting unkindness. I regret to say that impatience is an area with which I am not altogether unfamiliar. I have learned to be more patient after observing that my tone of voice and words became less kind when I was less patient. I hope I have improved in this important area as I have grown in Christ and matured in life.

In Paul’s majestic discourse about love at its best and most sincere, he writes, Love is patient and kind . . it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4/7 NLT/NIV. As I have thought of that description, beautiful and practical in its simplicity, I observe that patience is a prerequisite of kindness. To me, kindness seems an observable evidence of patience. Patience with another person opens the door to your kindness being expressed toward them in thought, word, or deed. Patience is a choice you make; kindness is the expression of your choice.

Can you imagine God’s love for you being absent of patience, and lacking kindness? Wouldn’t that confuse you? The Bible teaches that God’s kindness is directly linked with your salvation. “And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of His favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us through Christ Jesus. God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:7-9 NLT. See Titus 3:4-7 TEV.

Here’s the practical application. Are you and I not required to be gracious with others as God has been with us, and as gracious as we wish Him to be continue to be toward us? Can I treat you in a lesser way and still expect God to treat me in a better way? Jesus was pretty clear about His expectations – a “new commandment” that “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34-35 NLT. That is not a suggestion, nor a noble objective; that is non-negotiable, a command to obey! Loving others begins with the Christian civility of patience and kindness.

My prayer for you today is that patience and kindness will crown your relationships.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , ,

Love

February 14th, 2011

“If you love someone . . you will always believe in them.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 TLB

“Love is clearly the strongest force, and the most personal and precious of gifts.”

My thoughts today are about “love.”

Love is longed for by everyone, yet misunderstood by many. A lot of things masquerade as love that are not really love at all. People will touch your life and claim to love you. They may be sincere but do not act in loving ways. It is not intention that qualifies one’s actions as loving; love is a manner of relating to another with kindness and understanding, evidencing the selflessness of love’s character. For instance, extreme jealousy is not love, but a hurtful possessiveness that only postures itself as love. Love trusts rather than distrusts, believes rather than doubts.

Any attempt to control another individual’s will is not love, even with assurances it is. Love cares and desires to contribute to another’s well being, even when tempted to control. Love does not seek to gain advantage or satisfy one’s own desire or need, at the expense of another. Love wants and seeks only the highest and the best for the other, even at the sacrifice of one’s own wants. Love is never selfish; love serves and sacrifices.

Every effort to limit and confine another is not love. Love allows room for a person to grow and be free to become more, respecting the individuality and uniqueness of the one loved. Love does not coerce another to conform to your wishes against their will. Real love accepts people as they are, and then enables them to become what they should. See John 1:12 KJV.

That’s why love is not always easy. Love will not hold on, when it needs to let go. Love does not insist on unquestioned rightness when there are honest differences. Love may well choose to defer to another without demanding or leaving.

Does that sound like love is weak, or that to love you must be willing to become a doormat to someone else’s abuse? Love is anything but weak. Love is strong enough not to impose itself against another’s will. Love is the most personal and precious of gifts you are able to give, and the strongest force of which you are capable. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-7/13 TLB.

God’s love is the highest and purest love known. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. Everything costs somebody something, but God’s love cost Him everything. “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the (price) for our sins.” 1 John 4:10. Your love is a learned response, the result of the love that you have received; the love you can offer is more than any love you naturally would have been able to give. John 13:34-35.

My prayer for you today is: value what is priceless, and refuse every cheap substitute.

Devotionals , , , , ,

Identity Check

February 2nd, 2011

“Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7 NIV

“Love can be imitated, but is not convincing until it looks and feels to others like God’s love.”

My thoughts today are about “an identity check.”

I was just on the phone with my bank requesting information about my account. Very politely, the customer service representative asked me to verify my identity – my account number, mailing address, and then the last four numbers of my Social Security number. Were they suspicious or distrusting? No, just careful about protecting my personal information. Once they knew that I was who I claimed to be, full access was granted. Life is like that. For meaningful access into a person’s life, they will require some confirmable proof of who you are for real.

You are asked to do that everyday in one manner or another. Everyone who relates to you as family or friend, interacts with you as a neighbor or fellow worker, does business with you, or identifies you as Christ-follower are watching to see if your speech, attitudes, values, actions, and lifestyle verify that you are who you say you are. The Bible makes their verification simple: Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 TEV. That sounds pretty straightforward; if you love, you know God; if you don’t, you won’t!

Love – authentic, practical, and observable love – is the indisputable way people verify your spiritual identity. You might offer other options such as: going to church, being a good moral person, doing good deeds, being generous and benevolent, etc, but those can be counterfeited. Real love is described as: patient, kind, humble, selfless, good natured, sacrificial, forgiving, truth-loving, undaunted, terminally hopeful, tirelessly persevering, and endless – not one or some of those, but all of those! Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8/13 NIV.

Love can be imitated, but is not convincing until it looks and feels real to others, like God’s love. It can accurately be said, “People will not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Those around you at home, or work, or play are waiting to see the convincing testimony of a truly loving life. It is never who you claim to be; it is always about who you are personally known to be in fact and practice. “And may the Lord make your love grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love overflows toward you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 NLT.

Love is not merely emotional; it is primarily volitional, your consistent choice to express the love you have received, demonstrated toward others in the same selfless measure love was given to you. Jesus said that above every other attribute, love will be the distinguishing element of those who claim His name. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV. Ask yourself this question, “If I were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough witnesses and evidence to convict me?” That’s rather provoking to consider. What’s your answer? What would your family and friends say?

My prayer for you today is that you are loving toward others as God is toward you.

Devotionals , , , , , , , ,

Love – The Jesus Kind

June 17th, 2010

“You must love others as much as yourself.” Mark 12:31 Living Bible

“You add value to others when you recognize how highly God values them.”

My thoughts today are about “love – the Jesus kind.”

That is quite a lofty achievement, isn’t it? “Loving others as much as you love yourself” would be far easier to obey if everyone were as easy to love as some others are. I think that is why Jesus did not make the command about the other person; He made it all about you. God knows that you were created with a healthy self-esteem, and though that is a bit complicated because of each individual’s natural condition – theologians call that “falleness” – most everyone still has a good dose of appreciating and preserving themselves, some a little too much really.

I read a lovely phrase about the practical aspect of loving others – “you only love others when you add value to their lives.” Isn’t that what you are trying to do for yourself, adding value? You want to be better and do better.

You invest in a good education for yourself so that you will have more options and fulfillment in what you do, with a greater chance for success and financial security. You choose a spouse that will enrich and enhance your life. You select a neighborhood and schools for your children that will better insure their safety and academic achievement. You try to eat wisely and exercise a bit to insure better health and longevity. Isn’t all of that about adding value to your life?

How then can you love others and add value to their lives? Simply stated, it is by placing a higher value on them, the way you value yourself – thinking of them as highly as you think of yourself – treating them as well as you treat yourself – speaking of them as kindly as you speak of yourself – wanting the best for them as you desire the best for yourself – and rejoicing with and for them when they rejoice.

“That the members may have the same care for one another. And if one suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with them.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 NAS. When you rejoice equally for another’s success as for your own, and when you empathize with their sufferings as you would struggle with your own, then you “love others as much as yourself.” You add value to others when you recognize how highly God values them, and treat them accordingly.

Maybe Jesus stated this principle most practically and plainly, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” John 13:34-35 NKJV. You are only asked to give others what you have been given by God, to regard others as God regards you, and to behave toward others as is God’s manner with you. A frequent and favorite saying of mine is this: “love to be authentic must be practical and observable!” Is your regard for others practical and observable?

My prayer for you today is that you learn to value others as God and others value you.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , ,