Tonight I was trying to catch up on reading some of the blogs I frequent and I came across this post by Alan Knox . I really enjoy reading Alan’s writing, and am always challenged by what he has to say. His post today was related to what I have been thinking about which is how we show love to one another. We all know that we are to love one another, but how to we apply that? What do we do that shows love?
Today I thought of 10 different things that I could do to show love to those in my church family, and family and friends outside my church. I by no means have all (or any) of these down pat. Actually, I completely stink at some of them! But, I do think that we would be showing more of Christ’s love if we added these things to our daily lives. These are in no particular order of importance, in fact, I think they are all equally important.
1. Write a handwritten note
When we were first told that there were issues with Sarah, I was going through a very dark time. Actually I felt as if I was in the bottom of a pit without a ladder. The church we were attending at that time had a 24 hour prayer chapel, and people would take an hour once a week to go to the prayer chapel to pray over a prayer list. The chapel was supplied with cards that we called prayer grams. While you were serving your hour if you felt led, you could send a person on the list a prayer gram. During this dark time I received several of them, and I still have them to this day. The thought that someone took the time to think of me, and pray for me, and to let me know they were praying, lifted me up more than I can say. In 1Thes. 5:11 we are told to encourage one another and this is a tangible way to lift our brothers and sisters.
2. Return phone calls and e-mails
Many times we can become busy, which can lead to us becoming neglectful of those who are in our lives. Returning an e-mail doesn’t have to be a lengthy process, it can be just a few words of acknowledgment. I really need to work on this one. I have one friend who makes it a point to answer his e-mails in 24 hours, and he gets tons of them. He may only send you a few words, but he will always acknowledge you.
How many times have we had a phone message that we didn’t take the time to answer? Have we said to ourselves, “If it’s really important, they’ll call back.” If a friend leaves us a message asking us to call back, we should show them the care and concern to do so. If we are short of time, we can let them know up front that we only have a couple of minutes.
3. Minister in a truly helpful way
Often we get in the habit of only ministering in certain ways, for instance, taking a meals to those who are sick. This becomes how we respond automatically without assessing whether that is the best way to minister at that time. When my girls are out of church for weeks on end, nothing would mean more to them than to receive a note or a call inquiring about them. One dear sweet friend did this recently and it meant the world to them. We need to step back and look at ways that we can reach those who are going through trials in a way that will truly be of help to them.
4. Greet people at church
You may think this is a no-brainer, but it’s not. Over the last few years we have visited many churches and I can’t tell you how many times that no one has spoken to us in church. As a society we have become very self-absorbed and don’t look around to see those who may be being neglected. We have our friends that we want to speak to, and those who are new are left on the outside, sitting alone. I don’t believe it is out of callousness, but because we have been taught to think of ourselves first. If we are in a group of people talking, we should look up and around to see who isn’t in a group and who we could include. Often if someone sees a group of people talking, they are unlikely to come and join the group without an invitation due to not wanting to interrupt. We should be friendly to those around us, and think of how we would like to be treated.
5. Step out of your comfort zone
This ties in with number 4. The way I have been doing this is to make myself go up to people I don’t know at church and introduce myself. If you were to know me in real life, you might not think this is hard for me, but it is! And I sometimes say the dumbest things! I was mortified recently when I introduced myself to a woman at church, and asked her if it was her first Sunday (don’t ever ask that, it usually ends badly, because for me it turns out they’ve usually been visiting for 6 weeks). Not only was it not her first Sunday, but she informed me that I had been introduced to her a few weeks before.
6. Check in with people
I can easily forget this one, in fact, I usually remember on the way home that I meant to ask a friend about an event that is happening in their lives. It encourages people when you remember them. If they are going through a trial and you remember to ask about it, it could be just what they need. We all want to feel loved and remembered, so if we are to do to others as we would want them to do to us, shouldn’t we take the time to show interest in their lives?
7. Remember birthdays
This something I am prone to forget (and if you’re in my family, you are painfully aware of this fact). I usually remember a couple of weeks before, but for some reason, when the birthday gets here, I usually forget. A simple card, e-mail, or call can lift someone’s spirits on their special day.
8. Ask how things are going
Take interest in the lives of those around you and see how they are doing. Ask them if there is something you could pray about for them. Another one of the questions on the membership questionnaire was asking how the elders could pray for us. We should be willing to take the time to ask our friends how we can pray for them, and to follow up by praying and then checking in with them to see how they are doing.
9. Take time to listen
How many times do we ask a question and then not really listen to the answer? Or perhaps we have something to tell our friend and then don’t take the time to hear what they may want to tell us. Listening is a developed skill, one area in which we could all probably improve.
10. Attend showers and parties
Is your life too full to take the time to attend showers and parties being given in honor of your friends? I have attended showers and parties where only a few of the many people invited took the time to attend. We at times will have a conflict, but we should try to attend if there is any way possible. Just this week there was a shower being given for a lady at church. I really wanted to attend, but with Gene out of town there were many things I needed to attend to and I wasn’t able to go, and it really bothered me that I couldn’t. I feel a responsibility and love for those that I worship with and want to encourage them whenever possible, and this is a tangible way I can do that.
This list is by no means exhaustive and I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can show love to others. One other thought. Are you willing to be loved in these ways? Are you closed off to others when they try to show an interest in you. When sincerely asked how you are doing, do you give a trite answer such as, “Better than I deserve!”, or “Couldn’t be better!” If those are the types of answers we are giving, aren’t we then not allowing ourselves to be loved and encouraged, and aren’t we just as much in the wrong as those who don’t show love? What are your thoughts?