Have you noticed that some people seem to have a gift for loving others? Romans 12:6-8 tells us that God has given each of us gifts in certain areas. "Service" and "kindness" are two of the gifts in the list. Other women may have different gifts such as teaching or administration or encouragement.
But even when kindness is not our predominant gift, it still should be a quality that is evident in our lives. Love and kindness are two of the fruits of the work of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). Love should always be a central theme in the life of a follower of Christ.
First John 4:7-8 says, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." Christians ought to be the most loving people in the world.
Unfortunately, that's not always the case. From backbiting to gossip to harassing people who don't know Christ, our negative behavior can speak volumes. But when the people around us experience true kindness and love through the Holy Spirit at work in us, they begin to get a picture of Christ's abiding love.
According to Proverbs 31:26, a positive woman exhibits the "law of kindness with her tongue" (nkjv). Could others say that about us? Do kindness and love control our words and actions?
Of course, love is not always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes love means encouraging someone to become a better person. At times the most compassionate thing we can do is to confront a friend or loved one and then offer a step up-a lift to help the person move forward in a positive direction. In such cases, kindness should be coupled with wisdom as we speak the truth in love.
A friend of mine (I'll call her Susan) uses the following formula for encouraging people to experience health and wholeness when they've been caught in a destructive lifestyle. She actually formulated these principles when her daughter's friend began to make unwise relationship choices and needed direction and help. Susan told her daughter to talk to her friend and follow these three steps:
(1.) Revelation. Say, "Here's what you are doing." In this case, Susan's daughter helped her friend recognize her destructive behavior.
(2.) Reaction. Say, "Here's what could happen." The daughter pointed out the consequences of her friend's behavior.
(3.) Road to success. Say, "Here's a better way." The daughter offered tips on how to be a positive friend.
Susan will be the first to tell you that these principles must be delivered in kindness and love. Furthermore, we'd be wise to remember that advice is best offered when it is requested or desired; otherwise we may be wasting our time. Any change, reaction, or result is in God's hands; our responsibility is simply to love.
Jesus is our example when it comes to "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) and helping others choose a more positive direction in life. He showed us love by showing us a better way. In his Sermon on the Mount, he gave us a loving and beautiful picture of how to enjoy a happy life. The word blessed in this passage comes from the same Greek root (makarios) as the word happy:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3-10)
Compassion is a feeling of sorrow for the sufferings or troubles of others, along with an urge to help. Jesus showed his love and compassion toward us by encouraging us to leave behind our dark, empty lives and experience a life that's abundant, happy, and blessed. Because God loves us, he taught us how to live!
In God's vocabulary, love is an action word. Paul describes true love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
You and I can't deliver this kind of love in our own strength. But if we allow ourselves to be open vessels in God's hands, God's love can pour through us to others. John reminds us, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16). God demonstrated his own great love for us in that while we were still sinful people, he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for us (see Romans 5:8). Now we can love too-because the God of love lives inside of us.
Several years ago I began collecting golf hats from the various cities and restaurants our family visits on vacations. One of my favorites is from the Hard Rock Café. It's black and white, and it sports a simple logo on the back that says, "Love all; serve all." What a great motto! As positive women, we should wear that motto continually on our hearts and minds every day. Jesus showed us what it means to love all and serve all. May this be our creed as we shine brightly in our world for him!
Read: The story of Dorcas (also known as Tabitha) in Acts 9:36-43. What was Dorcas known for in her community? Why was there such an outpouring of grief when she died? What great miracle occurred in this story, and how did it affect others? Do you know someone who is like Dorcas?
Pray: Oh, compassionate heavenly Father, may my life be a reflection of your love! I know that I am able to love only because you have loved me so abundantly. Help me now to love others as you have loved me. I thank you that your love is complete in kindness, compassion, service, and truth. May it overflow to all the people in my life! Help me to be a vessel you can use to show your love and compassion to the world. In Christ's loving name, amen.
Remember: "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble" (1 Peter 3:8).
Do: Pray and ask God to direct you to one area of service or ministry through which you can show his love to others. It may be something you do once a week, once a month, or sporadically throughout the year. Ask God to open up an opportunity that will best utilize your unique gifts and talents. Then decide today to actively pursue that opportunity to show his compassion to the people around you.
Editor's Note: This is the third of three excerpts taken from The Power of a Postive Woman. Click here to read Part One. Click here to read Part Two.
Exerpted with permission from The Power of a Positive Woman. (c)2002 by Karol Ladd. Howard Publishing Co. Inc., West Monroe, La.