Saturday, July 22, 2017

Expressing Christian Love Through Active Relational Christian Mentoring

We were created to love and serve God and His children. But most of us have little concept of what true love is let alone what service to God or to His children entails. That is because we have such a minuscule capacity for love when compared to God’s capacity for love. The Apostle Paul tries to explain the depth of God’s love for His children with these words: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  -- (Romans 8: 38, 39. NASB). So, God loves us with an infinite love that can’t be measured or taken away.

Although some people cannot fathom the type of love that God has for His children and they are thus missing out on God’s infinite love, there are still other people who are searching for God’s love, but do not yet realize where it is or how simple it is to obtain it. Instead, they look for love in all the wrong places. Some people will even create and perpetuate loveless scenarios while trying to find that love that will fill the emptiness in their hearts. Others are so love starved that they have finally quit looking for love and instead have just settled upon belittling the whole concept of love. They do not understand what God’s love is, or the sacrifice that He willingly made to give them a life of love forevermore.

All these people need to know that God’s great love for us led Him to sacrifice part of Himself, His Only Son, so that we might live forever with Him. They need to know that our love for others should be the same type of sacrificial love, which is a love that goes beyond like, affection, friendship, etc., to become the same type of self-sacrificing love -- the type of self-sacrificing love that is seen within our service to God and to others. In fact, we read in the Bible: “Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave Himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to Him.”  -- (Ephesians 5: 1, 2. NLT).

Our human minds, though, can barely grasp the concept of love, let alone understand how powerful love is or how powerful it can be. Even for authentic Christians who have received the all-encompassing love of Christ within the gift of our Salvation, it is still sometimes hard for us to get our minds completely around the all-encompassing wonderful love that God has for us. Yes, we say that we understand the love that it took for God to give His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins so that in believing on Christ we can then spend eternity with God. But, do we really understand the love that it took to allow His Son to be crucified for our sins, or do we really understand the amount of love that God expresses to each of us every day in so many ways?

All of us need to learn about God’s love through the true stories in the Bible, and then acknowledge the love that God continually pours out on us throughout our lives. We also need to know all about godly brotherly love so that we can grow our love in order to express in service our love for God and others. For, “no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”  -- (I Corinthians 13:3. The Message). Therefore, Christians must be willing to not only grow their brotherly love, but be willing to give out this brotherly love in order for the people that we are around to be able to see that there is something different about us from the rest of the world that is searching for love. 

Do you have love for others in your heart? I am not talking just about a compassionate love that many people have for those that are hurting. I am talking about love for others that is the self-sacrificing type of love that comes from knowing Christ as your Savior. It is a love that follows the path of true godly love – a love that puts on the true character of Christ. If you do not have that type of love, what can you do to begin to see others from the standpoint of God’s love. You need to discover God's sacrificial love for yourself.

Our Heart Yearns for Love

God created us with the potential to love Him and others. He gave us a heart that not only has the potential to love Him but that has the potential to grow in love for God and others. For, once we are “Saved”, we actually have the ability to love many other people all at once, if we focus on looking at others through Christ’s eyes. But in order to see others through Christ’s eyes and with His love, we first have to ask Christ to come into our heart and forgive us of our sins. In other words, we have to repent of our sins and believe in the fact that God loved us so much that He sent and sacrificed His only Son, a part of Himself, so that we could be saved from eternal death and destruction. We have to believe that with this sacrificial love, Christ arose from the grave conquering eternal death and that He is back in heaven sitting at the right hand of His Father. Only when we believe in Christ, and once we accept Christ as our Savior and the living Son of God, will our heart begin to expand in love. Our heart then expands with the love that Christ has placed in our heart – a love for Him and a love for others.

Actually, there is no limit to the amount of love that our hearts can hold, if we will just allow our hearts to expand and grow in love. A great example of the limitlessness of our capacity to love is seen in the love that emanates from a mother who has eight to ten children. She loves all of them, and if she had even more children she would love the next ones just as much too. But, in our daily world of living and looking at other people and their needs, we often fail to nurture or grow our heart in love. Instead, some Christians turn inward and fail to see others as Christ would want us to see them. Their hearts become a dry desert that has lost the capacity to love others as God would have us love them. Additionally, without love in their hearts, some people often grow the weeds of hate, jealousy and frustration, which seems to be continually watered with their selfish motivations. But, Jesus said, “Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are My disciples.”  -- (John 13: 36. LB). So we are to show others just how much we truly love them by sacrificing our time in service to the needs of others. But, if we allow our selfish motivations to interfere in our service to others, we are not growing our love or living for Christ.

What do I mean by selfish motivations? Well, most of us at least love ourselves. Moreover, in loving ourselves we do things that we want to do while often ignoring those things that could help other people. Additionally, we also do things that limit the amount of love that could be poured out on other people. For example, a person can begin to focus too much on themselves, whether it is in focusing on doing only what they want to do, or in focusing only on their sickness, depression, or some other perceived need, so that there is not enough love left to give to another person. They have used up all the limited love within their hearts on themselves and their perceived needs. Furthermore, these selfish motivations are always represented outwardly by what they are no longer able to do for others. For, if they allow anger, hate, and distrust to grow in their hearts alongside the little bit of love that is still there for themselves, their outward actions toward other people are likely to be based on anger, hate, and distrust instead of love.

God, though, created our hearts to yearn for love and to grow love. That is why we have the potential to see the love around us and within this world. Certainly we see and feel the love that God has bestowed upon us. But, if we can recognize God’s love and the love that He showed to us in giving us His only Son, so that in believing in Him we can someday spend eternity with Him, then we can certainly fill our hearts with not only love for God and ourselves but with love for other people as well. Unfortunately, when we add into our life the problems of this world, which include but are not limited to pain, unexpected problems, and emotional hatred, we can often stifle our yearning for godly love and then stifle the desire to shower that love on others through brotherly service.

There are other problems as well that will interfere in the growth or development of our brotherly and godly love, which can then also interfere in the expressing of our love through our missed chances for service for others. One type of problem that easily interferes in all our lives is the one that we refer to as “life getting in the way of good intentions”. For example, we all have things that we love to do, i.e., we have our heart’s passion or hobbies, our jobs, our family, etc., and we also want to do other things that we care about. However, often there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do all the things that we want to do. So, if we don’t prioritize the time we have been given here on earth for our responsibilities and the things that we love to do or want to do and care about, then all of these things taken together can drive the direction of our lives, while leaving little time to be of service to others. So, whether it is that job that we really like, a hobby we love to participate in, or a recreation that we enjoy doing, Christians sometimes allow our love for those earthly endeavors to control the amount of time that we spend upon rest of our life and in service to the Lord. In fact, the time that we spend on our own activities can impede and consume our time to the point that we are no longer doing for God what we were created to do in ministry or service.

A Ministry or Service that Reflects our Love to Others

All Christians have been given a ministry or service to preform for the Lord. Recognizing our individual ministries, such as that of Active Relational Christian Mentoring or that of teaching a Sunday school class is very important to the fulfillment of our service to God and others. But besides recognizing the ministry that God has created us for, Christians need to stay focused on developing our brotherly and godly love for other humans so that we can do what God has called us to do.  Indeed, all Christians need to focus on growing and showing our love for other people. In fact, one of the things that we can do to grow our love is to be of service to God and His children. For, love begets love. In other words, the more that we express or show our love for others the easier it becomes to love other people including those that at first seem unlovable, because we are growing our love. It also becomes easier for those who are mistrusting of brotherly love from a Christian to see that we are indeed concerned and caring people who want to be there to help others. However, if we shelter our lives from getting involved in a ministry or if we selfishly only do the things that we want to do, then no matter how talented we are or how much we want to be of service to another, our love will not expand or grow. Neither will our capacity to be of service to God and others grow.

We all ask ourselves why we can’t do more to share the Gospel with others, but the real reason is that we have not allowed ourselves to love others the way that God wants us to love them. For, it takes a great deal of love to step forward to share the Gospel and to not be afraid of being shot down for doing so. In fact, when we love others unconditionally, we are not afraid to show our love by stepping forward to mentor another or by stepping forward to share the Gospel message. However, when we pull back into ourselves, focusing only on our love of self or by focusing only on our needs, we are essentially tamping down or destroying the roots of love that are supposed to grow for the Lord.

Unfortunately, humans often tamp down those things that would grow their love for the Lord and others. For example, not serving the Lord, not helping a friend, not ministering to the needy or not providing some other loving service for God are all things that a person doesn’t do that will eventually tamp down their love for God and others until they become a dry empty desert. When that happens people often justify their failure to love others with many deceptive reasons. For example, although they may tell ourselves that they lack the time to serve, they are really not making the time to serve. Essentially, they are putting God and Christian service on the back burner, so to speak. Thus, they are tamping down their love for God and for others that was meant to grow in our hearts. However, in doing so, they are not only hurting ourselves, but are hurting God and those for whom they have failed to be of help.

We all should remember the proverb: “As a face is reflected in the water, so the heart reflects the person.– (Proverbs 27:19. NLT). Consequently, we can’t ignore the importance of growing our heart of love. Instead, we need to nurture our heart by investing in our interests, talents, gifting, etc., which can then be used in our service for other people. Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one of the many Christian services that we can perform. Furthermore, our love for a specific job, hobby, recreation, etc., can often be used in our mentoring of or our service to other people, if we utilize it the way that God intended for us to use it. Indeed, our individual interests, talents, gifts, etc. can be used to empower another woman who not only needed to learn what we know, but needs to feel the Christian love of a woman who cares about her. By investing our mentoring time in the people who can use a little support, help, coaching, fellowship, etc., we can make not only a change in our own heart, but in the heart of the other woman. Then when we look at our face reflected in the water, we can see a woman who has a heart filled with love for others.

People around us will be able to see our heart by the actions that we take and by the words that we use to lift other people up. Certainly, they will see our heart love for God by the way that we live our lives for Him and by the way that we willingly step forward to help or support another person. Remember that people can see us for who we really are, because our heart is reflected in all that we do. If we do not have love in our heart for others and a love for sharing the Gospel message, we will not be seen as caring, concerned, kind, and loving Christians. How then can we share the Gospel message to those who are hungering for God’s love and peace? But, if we show our love through our actions and words and in service to God, we can become harvesters of love for the Lord.

The Melding of God’s Purpose With Our Purpose

God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. Oswald Chambers said it best when he said, “I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God is not after perfecting me to be a specimen in His showroom; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He likes.” -- (The Upmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, December 2).  I don’t know about you, but I want to be used by God. I want to create a longing for God in other people as I help them discover who Christ is. I want to be able to uplift other women so that they will be empowered to be all they can be for God, themselves and their family. However, to do so, I must allow God to make me one with Him. But how can God make us one with Himself? Well, God is love! God is Truth! God is justice! God is honor! These are just a few of the things that we can list about who God is. But, to understand the oneness that God wants us to have with Him, we must first understand God’s love and the depth of love that God wants us to express to each other here on earth, starting with our sharing of the love of God that produces that same love longing in others for the Gospel message, so that others can also have a relationship with God.

When we allow our hearts to grow in love and then get to that place where God can use us, we have become true servants of the Most High. Then it is through our helping service to other people that we are able to exemplify the love of God and what living for God actually means. When we exemplify God’s love in everything that we do, people can see the difference in our lives from those people who do not have the love of God and the love of His Son living within them. Moreover, when we allow the love of God to infiltrate our hearts through the Salvation of Jesus Christ, His Son, we learn to truly love. We then meld God’s love with the love that we have for Him and His Son. This love grows even greater in our hearts by doing for others with heartfelt service. But, in order for our love to continue to grow, we have to continue to pursue our purpose to love others, which ultimately leads to our honoring and glorifying God with our service. For, God not only asks us to love Him and Christ, but He asks us to show that love through our obedience to Him. It is then our obedience that actually reflects the love that has taken root in our hearts.

You have been Shaped to serve God and others in Love

Everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by His power, and everything is for His glory.”  -- (Romans 11:36. LB).  These words written by the Apostle Paul, explain the reason for our existence and why we are here on this earth. We were created by God for God. For, in creating us, God wants us to love Him and each other. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and chose to believe Satan’s twisted and false words instead of God’s truthful and loving words, they destroyed their perfect world. Then, because they listened to Satan and failed to trust in God, mankind has to now face temptation, lies, physical death, decay, and worse. Now because the truth is so hard to determine within Satan’s lies and people’s lies, which are an everyday occurrence, many people can’t see the truth or the love that awaits them in knowing Christ as their personal Savior. They have been deluded by Satan and the philosophies of this world, which results in hurt, anger, loss of freedoms, fear, and in many cases results in people just existing without a purpose and without love. But, Christians can still make a difference in the lives of those who are lost. For we have been given a commission to help the lost to see that God loves them and that Christ can be their Savior your too. Indeed, every Christian has been given a service or ministry to perform for the Lord. Christians have a purpose!

The Apostle Paul tells us: “Use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”  -- (Romans 6:13. NLT). That tool is a service that you can perform for the glory of God. Later Paul told the Colossians: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  -- (Colossians 3:23. NIV). This means that we are to love the Lord and love others. At the same time, we are to work with all our heart to help other people come to know Christ as their Savior. We are to also be willing to help other people through whatever trial that they are going through, by being there for them and by actively mentoring to their needs. In other words, our love of God and others is to be reflected out from our hearts through the work and the services that we perform.

Love is what matters most in our lives. In fact, God wants us to learn how to love and how to grow love within our hearts! We know this because throughout God’s Word, He emphasizes the importance of love in the lives of His children. Here are just a few examples of verses within the Bible relating to the importance of loving and learning to love. God’s Word says:

Let love be your greatest aim.– (I Corinthians 14:1. LB).

Love means living the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is this: Live a life of love.”  -- (II John 1: 6. NCV).

The whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself’”.  – (Galatians 5:14. LB).

Show special love for God’s people.”  -- (I Peter 2: 17. CEV).

Jesus said, “Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are My disciples.”  -- (John 13: 35. LB).

We also know that love will last forever, because the Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament: “These three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.”  -- (I Corinthians 13:13 NCV). This verse then brings us back to the topic of love and service. We know that it is love that matters the most for our lives. But, it is ultimately the expression of that love through service to the Lord and service to others that impacts our eternal lives. We will receive rewards in heaven for helping others and sharing the Gospel message. Moreover, we are told in the New Testament that “Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone.”  -- (Galatians 6:10. NLT). We also read that Jesus said that the way to express our love to Him is to love His family. Who, then, is considered to be the family of Christ’s? Well, Christ’s family is everyone who has asked Christ to come into their heart and who has asked Him to forgive their sins. This means that every authentic Christian is a member of Christ’s family. Moreover, Christ tells us that we are to care for His family’s practical needs as well as for their spiritual needs. For Jesus Christ said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of My family, you did it to Me.”  -- (Matthew 25: 40 NRSV).

How Do We Express our Love to Others and to Members of Christ’s Family?

We express our love to those who do not know Christ as their Savior by being willing to step forward and share the Gospel message even when we are uncomfortable in doing so. We express our love to non-Christians by being there for them in times of trouble, or when they have health issues that are daunting. We express our love to non-Christians by inviting them to church and by being willing to mentor them when they need a friend. We express our love by making time for the other person and by willing to be their mentor, if needed.

It isn’t always easy to give up our own time to help someone in need. But as a Christian it is not only our responsibility, but it is a way to outwardly show our love for them. Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one way or one service in which we can show our love for someone in need. It is also a way to fellowship with other Christians and help them, sometimes just by listening to what they have to say. In fact, there are many categories of ARCM, so there is a mentoring category for every Christian. However, if God is calling you to a different ministry or service, that is fine too. Just don’t fail to grow your love for others or fail to reach out to be of service to God. You can do it! You can share the Gospel message in love.

If you are interested in showing love for another person through the service of ARCM, please check-out the book: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring, Women Mentoring Women with Christ at the Center. The author is Vicky Lynn Thomas. In this book, you can read true stories about lives that have been changed through the service of Christian mentoring. You will also be able to understand the different types of mentoring and the different mentoring categories in Christian mentoring that you can pursue. In fact, there is a category and type of mentoring for every woman. The book also explains how easy it is to become a Christian mentor. You can do it! You can both grow and share the love of God and the love you have for others that you have within your heart with someone who needs to be empowered in a certain area or who needs to know Jesus Christ personally. (The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, iTunes, Google Play, and Christian Faith Publishing.) 

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