John 15:12-17 (AMP):
“This is My commandment, that you [c]love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything that I have heard from My Father. 16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. 17 This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.”
When I read this scripture and the verses before it (1-11), I get the sense that there is a reason why we need to follow the instruction exactly. Our default settings tend to revert to self-reliance, self-preservation, self-centered behavior and not much room for anything else. So, to me it reads as an instruction manual for those who choose to follow Jesus, which is you and me! There is a method to how it is done, and thankfully so! If we are going to love people, then we need to know how to do it so we don’t grow weary and to draw people to Jesus, not ourselves.
The story of Jesus and the disciples is a great place to start. Jesus chose 12 men to be His disciples and to learn from Him. They were all different in their personalities and characters (well, some leave you wondering if they were the best choice for the job). But Jesus chose them. They were not perfect; they doubted, even when Jesus was with them. Think of the story of Jesus walking on water – Matthew 14:22-33. In some cases, they also needed reassurance that Jesus was who He said He was – Matt 14:33 and Matt 8:23-27: “27 The men wondered in amazement, saying, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
The reason I mention this is because it shows that Jesus loved them and had a beautiful purpose for them. He called them to Himself as they were, flaws and all. It shows that people are not easy, but Jesus purposefully demonstrates how to walk with people. Jesus calls them friends! He was intentional with them; He taught them how to love, rely on God and be faithful with what was given. They were learning how to be relational and how to unselfishly seek the best for others. They were learning to have faith!
Now, taking in all that you just read and thinking about your friends and those God is calling you to draw close to Him, what is your instruction manual? Are you showing them the love that Jesus shows you daily, as they are, flaws and all? Are you seeing them through the lens of Jesus? When we seek the best for people, and we love them through the lens of Jesus and show (not just tell) them how to walk with Jesus, then it is not exhausting. It is not a burden, it is not an obligation, because we learn to understand that when people are learning and growing, it is a stretching process (stretching anything is not easy; you force it and risk it breaking). We start to see the Great Commission come alive; we become the vessels for the word of God to be consumed with love. It is not easy, as many know, but we need to do it as Jesus teaches us to do it. Be patient, be kind, rest and show mercy when needed. The aim is not to work yourself to the ground but to draw strength from God and allow Him to lead you.
Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) says, “28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST (renewal, blessed quiet) FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”
At times, our intentions don’t matter – what matters is the outcome. What people see is what has been done, not what was promised. The learning process will have plenty of mistakes (trial and error) but take heart, daughter of God, His grace will always carry you. Rest your heart in Jesus as you fulfill His call on your life!
Trust you are encouraged!
Women of Reverence welcomes our CONTRIBUTOR Pinky Hlophe. Read more about Pinky Hlophe here.