Habitat NI are taking part in a Worldwide Prayer Chain from 2pm, June 19th to 2pm, June 20th (EST) Habitat NI slot: 9am – 10am, June 20th
Habitat NI are taking part in a Worldwide Prayer Chain from 2pm, June 19th to 2pm, June 20th (EST)
Habitat NI slot: 9am – 10am, June 20th
What Love Looks Like
Consider this paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:
• Though I can speak five languages, if I do not have enough love to keep from gossiping, I’m just making noise.
• Though I read the Bible regularly and pray every day, if I don’t have enough love to sacrifice personal desires, my spirituality means nothing.
• Though I helped more than 4 million people attain decent shelter, if I do not show love to those I live and work with, my hard work is worthless.
• Love has a long, hard day at the office yet doesn’t get snappy and short tempered.
• Love is happy for others. Love doesn’t have to drive the fanciest car, live in the biggest house or have all the latest gadgets.
• Love isn’t rude or selfish.
• Love believes the best about people.
• Love knows what we hear and read will affect our attitudes.
• Love is flexible and gives others the benefit of the doubt.
• Love never runs out of patience, even with those who may not do their share.
In short, the Apostle Paul tells us that true love shapes—and even changes—our behavior. It is only through our actions that others can truly experience the love of Jesus. It is only through grace that we are capable of receiving and sharing that love.
This paraphrase can sting. Which of the bulleted items most make you aware of your shortcomings? What needs to change? Can you think of a recent moment when you did not act out of love? Consider silently any apologies you may need to make and then commit to asking for forgiveness.
Sometimes we can fool ourselves by working hard, by toiling and pushing and reaching for goals, we can mistake the intent to do good with being loving servants of God. Paul is clear: Without love, we are nothing.
Paul’s message is not just a negative admonition, however. In addition to telling us all the things love is not, it also makes clear what love looks like. We can see clearly how we can best demonstrate the great love God has poured out on us.
If we remind ourselves, often, for example, that we are going to believe the best about people and their intentions, it is amazing how that impacts our interactions. If we become intentional about not gossiping — and all the other euphemisms we use to make talking about people sound OK — suddenly, our conversations change. If we put the wellbeing of others before our wants, we become the stewards and compassionate caregivers God created us to be.
Who has shown God’s love to you in a wonderful way lately? Who comes to mind when you think of Paul’s description of love? Make it a point to thank that person.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that true followers will be known by their love.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20).
For individual reflection or group discussion:
• What do others recognize in you?
• How would your children, your siblings, your best friends, your colleagues describe the fruit you bear?
• When you think of someone who bears the fruit of a kind and loving God, who comes to mind?
• What does that person demonstrate so clearly to you?
• Thank God for those people in your life.
• What about Habitat for Humanity?
• What fruit are we bearing around the world?
• How can the world see a great and gracious God in what we do?
• What examples have you witnessed lately?
In the Gospel of John, Jesus used another metaphor when trying to explain to Peter what love requires.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
Jesus could not be clearer. Loving God means caring for others—particularly the most vulnerable. It has nothing to do with setting ourselves apart, with piety or with meeting minimum requirements. Loving God is about the messy work of reaching people where they are, extending a helping hand and offering them hope.
Habitat for Humanity has long been known for the houses we build, for the experiences we offer volunteers and for the transformations that have resulted from our work. As we move forward, we will be engaged in a number of new strategies that will help us draw closer to a world in which everyone has a decent place to live.
Our efforts will result in healthier families who have greater opportunities to improve their education and employment possibilities. Our holistic approach to developing communities will improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide, and we want to inspire exponentially more people to become the hearts, hands and voices for the cause of adequate, affordable housing.
Those outcomes will be the fruit by which we are known. We seek to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ—a love that is patient and kind; a love that protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.
God of love, help us to see more clearly what love looks like. Help us to be patient and kind; guard us from being arrogant or envious or rude. Thank you for those who show us the fruits of your love, those who so graciously feed your sheep. Lord help us to be obedient and passionate about demonstrating your immeasurable love. Amen.