ACTS OF LOVE

Search for news stories about acts of kindness, and then prepare to spend some time wiping tears from your eyes.

I recently read about a 5 year old boy with birth defects that had disfigured his face to some degree. Nothing overly horrible, but different enough that he could have become the brunt of some heartless teasing as he started school.

His mom had expressed some of her concerns on the community’s Facebook page and asked for ideas and assistance. And that’s where the community showed its heart.

The principal of the school contacted the mom and asked her to allow her son to come to school a little bit late on day one. When the mother and son exited the house at the appointed time the next morning, they were not prepared for what they saw. Dozens of police and sheriff vehicles lined the street in front of their house. A large fire truck was parked at the end of her driveway. Batman had arrived to get Kindergarten Day One off to a proper start, as had Captain America. Needless to say, the son was not the only one overwhelmed; his mother was reduced to tears.

After being greeted by Batman and Captain America, the five year old boy was treated to his own personal tour of the fire engine. Then the entire entourage made its way to the school. The principal had assembled the student body outside the main entrance, telling them they were gathering to greet a very special new student. When the boy arrived accompanied by first responders with lights flashing and sirens blaring, Batman and Captain America — he received a warm welcome indeed. Captain America spoke to the students and encouraged them to accept the young lad’s physical challenges and make him a welcome part of the school community; but his words were hardly even necessary.

(I’ll pause for a moment so you can wipe your eyes.)

And THAT, believe it or not, leads us to today’s verse:
LET US CONSIDER HOW TO STIR UP ONE ANOTHER TO ACTS OF LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS

When we consider doing acts of love and good deeds, there are a couple of considerations that come into play.

The first is the foundation of faith. And THAT consideration comes down to two simple phrases: “SO THAT” or “BECAUSE OF.” It is true that the bible says that, just like the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. And it is also true that some people have tried to turn that into a salvation-by-works approach, as if we could do enough good things to cover our own sin. (Spoiler alert: That’s NOT the question on the final exam.)

A living faith performs acts of love and good deeds BECAUSE OF the love of God within them; not SO THAT God will love them. There’s a massive difference between the two. When you do what you do BECAUSE OF the love of God in you, it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Like a father helping his son build a model or a mother helping her daughter bake a cake – God takes pleasure in providing what we need to that we can grow in our gifts and develop.

As I’ve said before, love shows. And a LIVING FAITH will be expressed in actions; acts of love and good deeds.

If you plant fruit trees that do not bear fruit, then the tree is either dead or dying. Healthy fruit trees bear fruit. It’s just the normal outcome of healthy development. Scripture encourages people to learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

Yes, you can learn to be devoted. Newlyweds have to learn how to best express the love they have promised. True love between the couple is not just expressed in the bedroom; it is also expressed at the kitchen sink doing dishes, in the yard mowing the lawn, at the office with hard work and in a multitude of other acts of love and good deeds. The same is true with new disciples of Christ. We need to learn how to let our love for Him be expressed. And, like the newlyweds, we will get better and better at doing so over time.

Not “SO THAT” but “BECAUSE OF” the great love He has shown us.

LET US CONSIDER HOW TO STIR UP ONE ANOTHER TO ACTS OF LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS

So, as we consider how to stir up one another, what can we do? A simplistic answer is to simply follow where Jesus leads. I’ve found that ministry is more productive when we go where Jesus wants us to go and do what He wants us to do. It is much better than deciding what WE WANT and asking Jesus to come over and bless it.

You may think that you’re not able to listen and follow Him. Perhaps, to an extent, you are correct; but don’t lay aside the power of God to make His will known to you. This, too, is a part of learning to be devoted. If you ASK the Lord Jesus to show you how He wants you to perform acts of love and good deeds, He will do so. Love kindness, walk humbly and watch how well He leads you. He has prepared good works for you to do, and He prepared them long ago. He knows precisely how He will lead you to them, equip you to perform them, and encourage you in them. It is God’s will that you be competent, equipped for every good work.

As He equips you, remember that it is His love, power and grace working in you. Don’t take the credit. Whatever you do, in word or deed, do in the name of the Lord Jesus; giving thanks, praise and glory to God the Father through Him for what He is doing. For what HE IS DOING, because it is God working through you.

This is the part I find so encouraging, because it means that God is the one responsible for the outcome. It also means that I do not need to be the one who is strong enough, smart enough, rich enough or anything else enough. HE IS ENOUGH. He is the source, I am the spigot. That’s all.

LET US CONSIDER HOW TO STIR UP ONE ANOTHER TO ACTS OF LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS

Take this as an encouragement to “step out” and perform your own acts of love and good deeds in the places that Christ leads you. Go ahead! Let your light shine, so that people will see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven. Whatever you do for Him, do it with all of your heart; as for the Lord and not for the ones you are helping. Let them see HIM in you.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for these are the sort of things that are pleasing to God. Learn to be devoted, look for the opportunities He sets in front of you. Then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

But always “BECAUSE OF” and never “SO THAT” …
Never confuse the chef and the waiter.

LET US CONSIDER HOW TO STIR UP ONE ANOTHER TO ACTS OF LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS

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