Loving those around us can be challenging. We all have people in our lives who are difficult to love. For that matter, we can often be hard to love ourselves! And let’s face it, our lives are busy. Our culture is busy. Sometimes I can hardly keep up with the people in my own home, much less reach out to others.
So how can we truly live out the calling Jesus gives us to love our neighbor as ourself? How can we serve those that we come into contact with? Sometimes I wonder if we might be making the “love your neighbor” commandment harder than it really needs to be. Think about the ways you feel loved by those around you, those close and even those not so close. Sometimes the smallest gestures, given from a heart seeking to love, can mean the most.
1. Take a meal to a family in need of love. Food is a love language. And it doesn’t have to only be taken in times of grief or hospitalization. Know a young mother struggling with her babies? Take dinner one evening! Know a wife whose husband is deployed or working out of town? Take a meal to her. Or take a few freezer meals that they can stick in their freezer and eat on a night they can’t cook. (By the way, if you don’t enjoy cooking or don’t feel qualified to make the meal, buy a pizza or fried chicken. I guarantee you it will still be very much appreciated!)
2. Invite your neighbors into your home. Don’t wait for Pinterest-perfect decor or 5-star meals. Invite others into your mess and your authenticity will help them to feel like they can open up to you as well.
3. Be authentic and real. I think one of the ways we can truly love each other is by letting down walls and letting others see into our brokenness. This doesn’t mean sharing your entire history with everyone you come across. But God ordains moments every day when we can give a word of encouragement that is born out of empathy because we’ve been there.
4. Offer childcare to a young couple. So many families do not live near grandparents these days, or maybe grandparents aren’t available. When you offer to have children come and play at your house for a few hours you are blessing a couple and investing in their marriage.
5. Don’t shy away from someone’s pain. Often when others are hurting we don’t know what to say or how to act. But, instead of doing nothing, simply say, “We love you and we are praying for you.” “We are here for you.” “Can we bring dinner over?” “Can we keep your kids for awhile and let you take care of some things?” “How can we pray for you?” “Can I come over and fold your laundry or clean your bathrooms?” As a matter of fact, if calling feels out of place, just sent a quick text or email. Send a card in the mail. When you don’t know what to say, don’t say nothing, say something. Show grace even if you don’t understand what they’re going through.
If I could leave you with one last suggestion that isn’t included on the list: Pray. Interceding for one another is truly a gift. Often, when a friend or neighbor is struggling, a tangible act of love (like a meal or babysitting) is very much needed and appreciated. But never neglect the gift of prayer, no matter the circumstances, because God can and will move as a result of our prayers.
I encourage you to choose one of these ideas and start serving a neighbor this week. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture or even planned out, but even something small like flowers or a favorite coffee drink can lift up a friend.
“But encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13
Candace Crabtree is just a broken mama thankful for grace and new mercies every morning. She and her husband live in East Tennessee where they homeschool their 3 kids. Candace also enjoys teaching piano, coffee, good books and blogging at His Mercy Is New. On her blog she shares encouragement for weary women from God's Word along with resources for learning to pray the Scriptures.
Publication date: February 16, 2016