by Pastor Tim Burt
John 13:35 NKJV “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”
There isn’t one of us who hasn’t, at one time or another, had the thought. I wonder if anyone thinks I’m a little weird? I think everyone wants to be thought of as normal and okay. At the same time, how many times have you looked around and thought, That person is weird. She is really quirky. He’s out there. That person has some major issues. What planet is he from? On one hand, we’ve had this recurring thought, I hope people think I’m normal and nice, and on the other hand, we see a lot of people who we think might qualify for the not quite normal list. There may be a few amazingly normal people out there, but I don’t know any of them, and I am not one of them.
Because we have to deal with people on a continuous basis, we can begin to categorize people without even realizing it creates judgments and mindsets about the way a person is. That might lead us to treat them in a lesser way than they deserve. I’m basically describing our society right now! It happened to John the Baptist. Jesus was teaching His disciples when he explained that the religious leaders of that day categorized John because of the way he looked and conducted his ministry. “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon.” (Matthew 11:18 NKJV) Later, Jesus was preaching and teaching among those same religious leaders, and they accused Him also of having a demon. (That must have been the popular word or phrase to judge or categorize someone with in those days.) So, there is nothing new under the sun. People were judging, categorizing, name-calling, and putting down others then, and continue to do so today. We are all tempted to do so at times.
It is such a temptation to feel superior in some way over others. You might say, I would never call people that! I would never treat people that way! The truth is, you do have times when you feel like that. None of us want to admit that we would ever feel that way. But our actions sometimes reflect that we want to avoid certain types of people because we think they are different, weird, or something that makes us feel less comfortable.
God’s Word has a way of piercing our hearts and putting us back in the right place. People might look like a dented can on a grocery store shelf because they’ve had a difficult life, But inside, they are people who just want to be loved by God and others like you do. It is the love of God that shows them that there are good people left in this world. It is the love of God that gives them hope to press on. It’s the love of God that comes as a smile, a kind word, a prayer, an act of kindness, a benevolent action, or a promise of God that can lift their heart. Yes, some of those people that you could be tempted to categorize or judge have real issues. That might make you want to avoid them. They might be caught in a cycle of rejection. You might never know what their issues are, and they could be difficult to interact with. But, a smile, a kind word, and a touch of God’s love as He leads you can be a seed planted that eventually triggers a life-changing experience that helps them move forward and eventually experience the love of Jesus in a deeper way.
Some people might look like dented cans on a shelf, but touches of God’s love can influence their lives. You can be God’s blessing sent to them to touch their life with God’s love. You might think that an act of kindness would have no real consequence when in fact, it could spark their heart to seek and look for God and experience His supernatural help and change. God wants us to see others through His eyes and be that touch of His love, not avoidance in their life. He wants those in need to see you as a messenger of His love. You never know what they’ve been praying for or talking to God about. To be that ambassador of love is important to the Lord. And though this is not to be our motivation for doing so, it carries His reward for you. Mark 9:41 (NIV) “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
Yesterday, I was out with my 21-year-old granddaughter. She has special needs and usually walks carrying a baby doll. Of course, that attracts curious people wondering what’s up with her. As we were walking, she suddenly looked at me and said, Papa, I don’t feel good. I think I am going to throw up. She suddenly knelt down on the sidewalk and threw up. As I was praying for her, this woman with her newborn baby in a stroller walked up to my daughter and gave her an unopened bottle of water. Drink this honey. You may be dehydrated. It’s hot out and this will help. My granddaughter got up and sat on a bench and drank it. This woman was like an angel. Within minutes my granddaughter was feeling much better. We couldn’t thank this woman and God enough!
A touch of God’s love might seem so unimportant, maybe even ridiculous when you are thinking about it, yet it can be so profoundly impacting to the one touched by it. Everyone is worthy of the love of God! We are not superior. We are servants. We want to love others, knowing that they, like you, need hope, love, help, and encouragement daily. You may not know who the person is or how you are affecting their life, but God knows. You may not realize that it’s the backslidden, hurting son of a minister of the gospel you just prayed for. You may not know that this person has been crying out to God for help. You may not know a thing about them, but you can know that God knows what He is doing, and because you’ve yielded to become His vessel of love in the moment, you are making a difference. When we do this, then John 13:35 NKJV becomes true. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.”
Philippians 2:3 (NIV) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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