Complaining. It’s one of the chief responses I’m hearing about our situation.
Complaining that people can go to the liquor store but not schools. Grumbling that we can get our lawns cut by professionals but not our hair. Frustration voiced that we can gather in supermarkets but not in churches.
I know complaining is going on because I’m hearing it, but I also know the tendencies of my own heart. These 2 months of social distancing are taking their toll on all of us in different ways, and I get the feelings of frustration and understand the complaints that are being raised.
But no matter what is happening around us, Jesus calls us to higher ground to commune with Him, to abide in Him. What is it He wants us to focus on no matter if we are currently together or not? Let’s read today Romans 12:9–13
 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV)
Love is one of the Holy Spirit’s fruits. Paul included love in the list in Galatians 5:22 and he writes it at the head of a list of love-based deeds in Romans 12. If you make a bullet list of the commands, here’s how I think they fit together…
Let love be genuine:
- by abhorring evil and holding to the good
- by loving one another with brotherly affection
- by outdoing one another to show honor
- by not being slothful but zealous to serve the Lord
- by rejoicing in hope
- by being patient in tribulation
- by being constant in prayer
- by contributing to the needs of the saints and showing hospitality
Love heads the list but also motivates the list. How can we fulfill any of those commands without first knowing the love of Jesus who lived out that list with perfect love for God and people? Abiding in Jesus means experiencing His love and learning to love others like He does.
When we see that bulleted list above or read it in scripture, we must see first the love of Christ. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend time with Jesus? To personally experience everyday life with Him? To know His love for us no matter what?
Friends, I know we all default to complaining, but our time must be spent in learning from Jesus how to love and then thinking of as many ways as we can to love others practically, no matter the season. We have a far greater call to love others right now and always with the love we always receive from God.
Some of the top ways I can think of to love others during these days:
- Pray, and communicate to people that you’ve prayed for them specifically.
- Write letters (the old-fashioned kind) if you can, sharing with people the truth of God, and the love you have for them, particularly what you appreciate about them.
- Contribute to the needs of the saints. Yes, giving is a way to show your love for others. It often begins by focusing on someone else and thinking through their needs and asking God to give you the motive and way to share. Recently our family received a letter (the old-fashioned kind) and a check for a certain amount urging us to apply it in a way that would help our family. We were so encouraged by this, and we remembered in that moment the God who sees us and knows our needs.
- Help others practically. It’s possible to maintain social distancing, even as we seek to honor the guidelines of Phase 1 here in Knoxville, while working in one another’s yards, helping pick up groceries for the elderly or at-risk, or dropping off a fun treat on the porch for people with kids. I’ve been so encouraged seeing people in our church body do all these things.
- Think through ways to be hospitable, even with restrictions still in place. For one helpful perspective, you may want to read this article by Rosaria Butterfield.
What are some ways you can think to show love to others? Starting with this list and adding to it as you go, ask the Lord to help you love others as He loves them. Then purpose to show that love to others as you are able.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control