you want happiness for an hourtake a nap.
If you want happiness for a daygo fishing.
If you want happiness for a monthget married.
If you want happiness for a yearinherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetimehelp others.
Id been one of 17,000 employees at a Florida defense plant. Then
government cutbacks began triggering steady layoffs. I looked for other work,
unsuccessfully. Finally, as our workforce neared 5,000 in 1993, my own layoff notice came.
Wed had layoff insurance on our home mortgage, but the company
had dropped all its Florida policies that summer. The replacement policy wouldnt
take effect for six weeks. No job? No layoff insurance? No home!
Ten days before that "pink slip," my wife was diagnosed with
spinal arthritis. Staying in Floridas humidity would mean life in a wheelchair. So
we focused my job search on the drier climate she needed. The Florida Job Services
computers told us to start near Sacramento, California. We did, living in a small tent
trailer in a Sierra Nevada foothill campground.
But I found no work there, and Yvonnes back still locked up, even
in that lower humidity. So we moved south to check the Mojave Deserts defense
complexes. We stayed in a 5,000-foot-high campground near Tehachapi through the
summers heat. In the fall, we moved down to Barstow.
We ended up living in the pop-up camper for almost six years. It
sheltered us in temperatures as low as 9 above zero and as high as 118 (with no a/c)!
After 15 months, we got work as traveling vendors with a major discount
chain. We worked in a different city every week, anywhere from California to South Dakota.
At the start, it only paid half our bills. But it was work. We did it.
Moving every week wasnt easy. We home-schooled the kids, with
much-appreciated help from the public school systems in Barstow and La Quinta. We rented a
mailbox and had letters forwarded. We needed a cell-phone, but at that time could only get
one if we had a home phone - and we were homeless! (Church friends let us use their
address and phone number to sign up.)
We applied for welfare and food stamps, but were denied. We "had
too many resources" (the car and trailer) and were "trying too hard"
(attempting to sell crafts). Welfare told us that if wed sell our car and tent
trailer, and move onto the street with our kids, theyd help us. We wouldnt do
that, even before another welfare worker warned us that, if we did, our children would be
We asked one lady how people got public help when they honestly needed
it. She said, "You lie!" We wouldnt. And we got no aid.
During those six years we exhausted our assets. We bought time by
paying for rent and groceries with credit cards. We didnt see doctors unless an
illness might be life-threatening. We fought a seven-year-long battle against bankruptcy,
but finally lost it. We faced repeated impossible-looking situations.
But we chose to keep our outlook positive. We emphasized the new places
we saw, the new things we did, the new people we met. We usually had to work on Sunday, so
we kept our faith fresh with regular home devotions. We prayed frankly, honestly, and
strongly. We learned that, in the hardest circumstances, God wants us to rejoice, not just
That turned a very difficult time into an adventure filled with warm
memories. And God faithfully brought us through it all.
By 1999, we were exhausted. We knew we had to stop, and that we needed a
"normal" home. For over six months, we prayed God would show us where that
God used our faithful Nissan to make the decision for us. Its four cylinders, which had
towed heavy trailers over Western mountain passes for 215,000 miles, finally said "no
more" on Wyomings historic South Pass. We settled nearby. It was the best place
wed found yet for Yvonnes arthritis. And there, step by step, with Gods
help, we started rebuilding our lives.
Did we learn how important "loving and helping your
neighbors" is? Yes!
When our neighbors pass through "dark and cloudy days"
(Exek. 34:12), do we know? Do we keep in touch? Do we love and help these
neighbors as if they were Jesus?
Why should we love and help our neighbors?
God gives many reasons.
We love our neighbors because of who
"Leave [some of your wheat and
grapes] for the poor and for those traveling through, for I am Jehovah your God"
"You shall give due honor and respect to the elderly ... I am Jehovah (Lev.
More Scriptures: Lev. 19:12; 19:14; 19:18; 19:34; 19:37; 23:22;
We love our neighbors because God has helped us.
"In response to all he has done for us, let us outdo each other in
being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good" (Heb. 10:24).
"It is God himself who ... has given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and
long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others" (Eph.
More Scriptures: Lev. 19:36; 25:35-38; 25:42; Rom. 15:27;
2 Cor. 8:7-9; Eph. 4:32; 5:2; James 2:13; 1 John 4:11-12.
We love our neighbors because we love God:
"If we love God, we will do whatever he tells us to. And he has
told us from the very first to love each other" (2 John v. 6).
"To help the poor is to honor God" (Prov. 14:31).
More Scriptures: Lev. 25:17; 25:36; 25:43; Luke 3:10-12; 6:35;
11:42; John 13:34-35; Rom. 13:8; 2 Cor. 8:5; Phil.1:11; 1 Thess. 3:12-13; Heb. 13:16; 2
Pet. 1:7-8; 1 John 2:8-10; 3:17-19; 4:7.
We love our neighbors because we understand.
"Dont forget about those in jail ... share the sorrow of
those being mistreated, for you know what they are going through" (Heb. 13:3).
"You too must love foreigners, for you ... were foreigners in the
land of Egypt" (Deut 10:19).
More Scriptures: Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:34; Deut. 16:12;
24:18; 24:22; 2 Cor. 1:4.
We love our neighbors because it benefits us.
"For if you give, you will get. Your gift will return to you
in full and overflowing measure ... Whatever measure you use to give ... will be used to
measure what is given back to you" (Luke 6:38).
"Day by day the Lord observes the good deeds done by godly men, and gives
them eternal rewards" (Ps. 37:18).
More Scriptures: Deut. 16:20; 24:19; Job 29:13; Prov.
11:24-25; 19:17; 25:21-22; 27:10; 31:31; Eccl. 11:1-2; Jer. 22:15-16; Luke 14:14; 2 Cor.
8:14; 9:6-14; Gal. 6:9; Eph. 4:16; Titus 3:14; Heb. 6:11.
We love our neighbors for righteousness sake.
"If the man is poor and gives you his cloak ... take it back to
him at sundown ... and the Lord your God will count it as righteousness for you" Deut.
"Every third year ... give all your tithes to the Levites,
migrants, orphans, and widows, so that they will be well fed ... he will make you greater
than any other nation ... To attain this honor and renown you must be a holy people to the
Lord your God, as he requires" (Deut. 26:12; 26:19; also Deut 26:13-18).
We love our neighbors for surprising reasons!
We love because "the joy of the Lord is our strength!"
And because "the Lord is coming soon!" (Phil. 4:5.)
Also read: Isa. 56:1; Jer. 7:3-7; 22:3-4; Luke 9:48; John 15:17-18;
2 Cor. 8:4-8; 9:7; Col. 3:14; Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:8; 3 John v. 8.
What blessings does God promise when we love our neighbors?
God promises life and health:
"Honor your father and mother, that you may have a long, good
life" (Exod. 20:12).
"God blesses those who are kind to the poor ... He protects them and keeps them
alive (Ps. 41:1-2.).
More Scriptures: Deut. 5:16; 25:13-15; Ps. 34:12-14; Prov.
God promises spiritual blessings:
and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure
in heaven" (Matt. 19:21).
"Love your enemies...then your reward from heaven will be very
great" (Luke 6:35).
More Scriptures: Ps. 15:1-5; 37:18; Isa. 64:5; Ezek.
18:7-9; 18:17; Matt. 10:40-42; 25:34; Mark 10:21, 12:33-34, 14:14, 18:22, Luke 6: 36-38, 1
Tim. 6:19, 2 Tim. 1:18, Heb. 6:11, 2 Pet. 1:8, 1 John 2:8.
God promises happiness and rewards:
"Happy is the generous man, the one
who feeds the poor" (Prov. 22:9).
"And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you"
More Scriptures: Ps. 41:1; 106:3; 146:5-9; Prov. 14:21; Matt.
10:42; Acts 10:35; 1 Pet. 3:9.
God promises good reputations:
"He gives generously to those in need ... He shall have
influence and honor" (Ps 112:9).
"The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds
will be an honor to him forever" (2 Cor 9:9).
More Scriptures: Ps. 15:1-5; Prov.11:16; 11:26; 31:31; Mat.
God promises to enrich us:
"It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also
possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich!
By watering others, he waters himself" (Prov. 11:24-25).
"For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full
...measure" (Luke 6:38).
More Scriptures: Deut. 14:29; Ps. 37:3; 37:26; 112:3; Isa. 1:19; 2 Cor.
God promises mercy:
"Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown
mercy" (Matt. 5:7).
"You will know that there is someone who will lift you up again" (From Job
More Scriptures: Ps. 37:19; Ps. 41:3; 112:4; Prov. 28:27; Eccl.
11:1-2; Isa. 33:16; Matt. 7:2; Luke 6:37; James 2:13.
God promises the nation blessings:
"That is why God blessed [King Josiah]. He saw to it that
justice and help were given the poor and the needy and all went well for him"
"O King ... stop sinning; do what you know is right; be merciful to the
poor. Perhaps even yet God will spare you" (Dan. 4:27).
More Scriptures: Lev. 25:19; Deut.15:4-6; 26:12-15; Isa.
God promises multiple blessings:
"The man who tries to be good, loving, and kind finds life,
righteousness, and honor" (Prov. 21:21).
"But good men will be generous to others and will be blessed of God" (Isa
More Scriptures: Ps. 41:1-3; Isa. 58:8-12; Gal. 6:9-10.
What does God say about people who dont love their neighbors?
(a) "They mean well?"
(b) "Not a big deal?"
(c) "Those neighbors dont deserve help anyway?"
Oh, oh! The answer to our little quiz is (d): "None of the
Whats the answer? Here are actual words Scripture uses to
describe people who dont love and help their needy neighbors. These arent
exceptions. Theyre the rule!
"Very evil," "Enemies" (Neh. 5:9; Isa. 1:24).
"Wicked" (Job 24:20; Ps. 10:2; 10:15; 28:3-5; 146:9; Mal. 3:5).
"Rebels" (Ps. 68:6).
"Foolish," "Ignorant," "In darkness" (Ps. 82:5).
"Rebels," "Companions of thieves" (Isa. 1:23).
"Defiled my Name" (Jer. 34:16).
"Enemies of everything good" (Amos 5:12).
"Hypocrites," "Hearts are far away," "Their worship is
worthless" (Matt. 15:7-9; Zech. 11:17).
"Cursed ones" (Matt. 25:41).
"Bunch of hypocrites!" "Speak very prettily about
the Lord but they have no love for him at all." "Worship is a farce" (Mark
"Fooling himself," "A nobody" (Gal. 6:3).
"No right to say he is a Christian," "Worse than the
heathen" (1 Tim. 5:8).
"Blind indeed" (2 Pet. 1:9).
"Still in darkness" (1 John 2:9).
"Wandering in spiritual darkness," "Doesnt know where he is
going," "Blind" (1 John 2:11).
"Not in Gods family" (1 John 3:10).
"Headed for eternal death" (1 John 3:14).
"Doesnt know God" (1 John 4:8).
Whew! God doesnt pull any punches, does he? Does this suggest
that, just possibly, we might need to repent a bit? Change our values? Our preaching? Our
Which "neighbors" do these passages condemn us for
neglecting? Parents. Children. Poor. Helpless. Widows. Orphans. Immigrants. Servants.
Other Christians. Sick. Lame. Lonely. Dying. Hungry. Without clothing. Homeless.
Prisoners. All our "brothers."
These Scriptures drive home the importance God places on helping
our neighbors. They help us understand Josiahs response when the priests read him a
long-forgotten scroll of Gods law from the Temple, including teachings on loving God
and our neighbors. Moses had instructed every new Israeli king to copy all Gods laws
and read from them every day (Deut. 17:18-29). But that command had been forgotten. Now
Josiah prayed, "What shall we do? For we have not been following the instructions of
this book; you must be very angry with us." (2 Kings 22:8-13; 2 Chron 34:14-32).
Indeed, God is pleased when we simply begin loving him. But our faith
isnt complete until we begin to love and help our neighbors too.
Whether or not we think we deserve these names, they are the
ones God uses! And theyre reinforced by the curses he pronounces on us.
What kinds of judgment does God promise if we fail to love our
Well miss blessings.
"If you give little, you will get little" (2 Cor.9:6).
"For if you take interest from a brother ... the Lord your God wont bless
you" (Deut 23:20).
Well face loss.
"He has oppressed the poor and foreclosed their homes
... his wealth will disappear beneath the wrath of God" (Job 20:19-28).
"But the Lord Almighty has sworn your awful fate ... Many a beautiful home will
lie deserted, their owners killed or gone" (Isa 5:9).
More Scriptures: Ex. 22:27; Job 19:26; 20:19-21; Prov. 11:24; 21:13;
22:16; 28:8; Isa. 5: 7-8; 5:10; Gal. 5:13-15.
Well be forgotten.
"Cut off his name from the memory of man. For he refused
all kindness to others, and persecuted those in need, and hounded brokenhearted ones to
death" (Ps. 109:15-16).
"Even the sinners own mother shall forget him ... No one will remember him
any more (Job 24:20).
God calls us sinners.
"Never oppress a poor hired man ... he may cry out to the Lord
against you and it would be counted as a sin against you" (Deut. 24:15).
"For he who dislikes his brother is wandering in spiritual
darkness" (1 John 2:11).
More Scriptures: Deut. 15:9; Neh. 5:9; Ps. 146:9; Prov.14:21;
14:31; 17:5; 21:10; Lam. 3:36; Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:6-7; 1 Tim. 5:8; James 2:9; 5:4; 1
John 2:9; 3:10; 4:8; 4:20.
Well face punishment.
"Dont rob the poor
and sick! For the Lord is their defender. If you injure them, he will punish you"
"Dont steal the land of defenseless orphans ... for their
Redeemer is strong; he himself will accuse you (Prov. 23:11).
More Scriptures: Neh 5:13; Job 22:10-11; 31:14-23; 36:16-18; Ps.
10:2; 10:12-15; 109:7; Is. 1:15; Mic. 2:1-3; Mal. 3:5; Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 12:40; Luke
20:47; 2 Thess. 1:6; James 2:13; 5:1.
Well face death.
"But a person who doesnt have love for others is headed for
eternal death" (1 John 3:14).
"But ... a robber or murderer ... who ... commits adultery, oppresses the poor and
helpless, robs his debtors ... and loans out his money at interestshall that man
live? No! He shall surely die, and it is his own fault" (Ezek 18:10-13).
Also read: Job 20:7.
Our nation will face judgment.
"You have driven out the widows from their homes ... Up!
Begone! This is no more your land and home, for you have filled it up with sin and it will
vomit you out" (Mic. 2:9-10).
"Listen, you ... who rob the poor, trampling on the needy ... who make slaves of
the poor, buying them for their debt of a piece of silver or a pair of shoes, or selling
them your moldy wheat: the Lord ... has sworn: "I wont forget your deeds! The
land will tremble as it awaits its doom, and everyone will mourn" (Amos 8: 4-8).
More Scriptures: Ex. 22:23-24; Ps. 82:5; Isa. 1:9-10; 1:17; 1:20;
1:23-27; 3:14; 5:9; 5:23-25; 14:30; Jer. 5:26-29; 7:3-7; 21:12-14; 22:3-5; 22:17; 34:8-22;
Ezek. 16:46-50; 22:2-15; 22:31; 34:2-20; Amos 2:6-7; 4:1-2; 4:11-12; 5:10-13; 6:1-7; 9-10; Obad. v.10; v:15-16; Mic. 3:9-12; 7:3-4; Zech. 7:8-14;
How great a sin is failing to "love our neighbors?"
Jesus compared it to not loving him. That included forgetting to
feed or clothe the needy; house "strangers" (often foreigners or immigrants); or
visit the sick and prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46). He decried lack of mercy,
forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35), generosity, and justice (Luke 11:37-44).
Jobs friends believed hed sinned terribly. Did they
think hed committed rape? Robbery? Murder? No. "You must have refused to
loan money to needy friends unless they gave you all their clothing as a pledge ...
refused water to the thirsty and bread to the starving ... You sent widows away without
helping them, and broke the arms of orphans. That is why you are now surrounded by traps
and sudden fears, and darkness and waves of horror" (Job 22:4-11).
All those sins were failures to "love" Jobs
To defend himself, Job emphasized that he had faithfully loved
and helped his neighbors:
"If I have been unfair to my servants, how could I face God? What
could I say when he questioned me about it? For God ... made my servant too. He created us
"If I have hurt the poor or caused widows to weep, or refused food
to hungry orphans - (but we have always cared for orphans in our home, treating them as
our own children) - or if I have seen anyone freezing and not given him clothing, or
fleece from my sheep to keep him warm, or if I have taken advantage of an orphan because I
thought I could get away with it ... then let my arm be torn from its socket! Let my
shoulder be wrenched out of place! Rather that than face the judgment sent by God"
(Job 31:13-23; 21:33-34; also read: Ps. 109:16-17).
When the New Testaments preachers urged their listeners to repent
of sin, wouldnt they have included the same sins Jesus and Jobs friends did?
What does Sodoms destruction teach us about loving our neighbors?
Wait! What does Sodom have to do with loving our neighbors?
Werent Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed for homosexuality?
Thats a common idea. Both cities were guilty of it,
to the point that bands of homosexuals roamed Sodoms streets at night looking for
travelers to molest. God certainly was against that.
What was the city like? "Unusually wicked;" "Utterly
evil;" "Terrible wickedness;" "Thoroughly depraved." (Gen.
13:12-13; 18:20; 2 Pet. 2:8; Jer. 23:14).
There are two reasons we often think homosexuality caused Sodoms
judgment. First, Jude v. 7 says one example of Sodoms sins was
"lust of men for other men."
Second, Gen. 19:1-11 describes how, the night before the
citys destruction, gangs of homosexuals wanted to rape two visiting angels. Sounds
like a good reason, doesnt it? But, even before that happened, God had
already pronounced Sodoms judgment. (Genesis 18:16-33.)
So what sins did make God condemn the cities?
"Sodoms sins were pride, laziness, and too much
food, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She insolently worshiped many
idols as I watched. Therefore I crushed her." (Ezek. 16:48-50.)
Doesnt that sound like many of us today?
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos also compared Israel and Judah to
Sodom and Gomorrah. Why? The same reason: Israel, like Sodom, was neglecting her poor and
needy. And Deut. 32:32 compares Israels enemies to "men of Sodom and
Gomorrah" for following false gods one of the sins Ezekiel listed - but,
again, not for homosexuality.
Read: Isa. 1:10; 1:15-17; 1:23-25; Jer. 23:14; Amos 4:1-2; 4:11.
Another of Amos prophecies strongly supports those passages:
"Woe to those lounging in luxury at Jerusalem and Samaria ...
by your deeds you bring the Day of Judgment near.
"You lie on ivory beds surrounded with luxury, eating the meat of
the tenderest lambs and the choicest calves. You sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and fancy yourselves to be as great musicians as King David was.
"You drink wine by the bucketful and perfume yourselves with sweet
ointments, caring nothing at all that your brothers need your help. Therefore you
will be the first to be taken as slaves" (Amos 6:1-7).
What was so sinful about fine living? Only this: those people placed
pleasure above caring for their hungry, sick, and needy. Amos warned them
forcefully that that sin, alone, would bring severe judgment!
Yes, Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of homosexuality. And we see
Gods anger with that in every Biblical passage that mentions it. Deut.
23:17-18, for example, says "you must not bring to the Lord any offering from the
earnings of a prostitute or a homosexual, for both are detestable to the Lord your
(Yet we also see Gods love for those guilty of sexual sins in
places like John 8:3-7, the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. And
the single person Ive known personally for whom I have seen God show his love the most,
in very exceptional ways, was a former prostitute. It is a strong lesson that we are still
to see and love the person behind the acts.)
Neither Ezekiel nor any of the other prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos) who compared
Israel and Judah to Sodom and Gomorrah listed homosexuality as a reason why. Instead, they
unitedly condemned Israel and Judah for not taking care of their poor and needy! Do we
realize this must mean, that, as much as God does hate homosexuality, he hates
letting our neighbors suffer even more?
If we need to repent of todays casual views toward homosexuality,
dont we also need to repent of our casual attitude toward the poor?
Arent we inviting God to repeat Sodoms judgment on us?
Why else should we "love our neighbors?"
Loving our neighbors shows Christian maturity.
We often emphasize what we get from God. We get love. We get
joy. We get peace. We get salvation. We get healing. We get
the Holy Spirit. We get prayers answered. We get to go to heaven.
All those are wonderful! Yet theyre only where we begin as Christians.
When we were children, didnt we enjoy getting presents at birthdays
and Christmas? Were we as excited about giving? Didnt our parents have to
teach us that? Many of us didnt fully learn that it was "more blessed to give
than to receive" until we had children of our own.
Neither of the two commandments Jesus called the most important talks
about what we get! They both talk about what we give! We are to give
love to God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to give love and help
to our neighbors.
We begin as "babes in Christ," thoroughly enjoying what we get.
Thats OK. Wouldnt we worry about children who didnt enjoy
presents? But God doesnt want us to stay there. He longs for us to grow up, mature,
and come to know the joys and blessings of giving.
Many passages teach it.
More than 3,600 verses in this book alone teach about loving our neighbors. Contrast
that with some popular teachings based on a tiny numnber of Scriptures.
Six of the Ten Commandments emphasize loving our neighbors (Ex.
And Paul says, "All ten [commandments] are wrapped up in
this one, TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF. Love does no wrong to anyone.
Thats why it fully satisfies all of Gods requirements. It is the only law you
need" (Rom. 13:9-10).
Messianic psalms and prophecies emphasized loving needy neighbors.
"Messianic" passages foretell the Messiahs coming. Many
tell how he will "love and help" the needy. Heres one:
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has
anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted. He has sent me to comfort
the broken-hearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind. He
has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God's favor to them has come. To all
who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise
instead of heaviness" (Isa. 61:1-3).
Also read: Ps. 68:4-6; Is. 9:5-7; 11:1-9; 42:1-9; Jer. 23:5-6; Luke
"Loving our neighbors" shows others
A neighbor sent us this note after wed given her family food:
"You have shown me Gods love and you have shown my children
Gods love. I want to thank you for being such willing messengers of God. Through you
four I have finally realized how much God loves me and I have finally realized how much I
love God. Because of who you are I know that I want God to be as much [with] me as he is
Loving our neighbors can lead to a move of
"Share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own
homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don't
hide from relatives who need your help.
"Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will
shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And
the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you
healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring"
And moves of God cause us to love our neighbors.
"Love your neighbors" ministry flourished during two of
historys greatest moves of God.
When God brought Israel out of Egypt, he gave them many laws to help
And the birth of the Christian church was marked by overflowing love
and generosity that impressed the community, built the churchs reputation, and
Back then, how many people do you suppose said "the church is just
after money?" How could they, when they saw how much the church was giving?
(Read: Acts 4:32-37)
Loving our neighbors helps our churches grow.
"Loving its neighbors" fueled the growth of one of the
worlds largest Christian churches, Full Gospel Central Church in Seoul, Korea. The
church started "by giving out relief and establishing orphanages. The church would
initially come from [people] who were hungry or crippled, people who had been broken in
spirit as well as body."
"The church was there to preach the gospel to the poor
... to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of
sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. (Luke 4:18-19). And
so the church grew." (Nell Kennedy, "Dream Your Way To Success,"
Logos International, pp.165, 180.)
One of Louisianas largest churches, The Healing Place Church in
Baton Rouge, grew because "we found couples who had just become parents and brought
them diapers and formula. We visited elderly people who were sick, and cooked meals for
the families of people who were hospitalized. And soon one thing began leading to
another." (Dino Rizzo, "Servolution," Zondervan, 2009, p. 22.)
Read: Titus 3:8; 2 Cor. 6:6; 6:11-13; Jude v. 23.
I believe the greatest future moves of God will come through churches
that wholeheartedly love both God and their neighbors, and show it by helping.
Several of us once hiked
across the high, spectacular mountains in Grand Teton National Park.
At 5 AM one August morning we left a 7,000-foot-high west-side
campground and plodded up into a 9,000-foot-high basin containing a small lake.
As we climbed higher, the trees grew smaller. The ground became covered
with exquisitely beautiful tiny white mountain flowers. "Dippers," also called
"water ouzels," flew up and down below the rims of small gullies we
passed. Pikas (small prairie-dog-like animals) whistled shrilly as we walked by.
After we passed the lake, only stunted trees and shrubs remained. Soon
the trees ended. Then so did the grass, weeds, and flowers. We made our way up over bare
rock, climbing a steep "talus" slope composed of boulders that teetered back and
forth as we stepped from one to the next.
Finally we reached smooth rock leading to the ranges crest. Large
patches of snow lay on the slopes all around us. A slender, 200-foot-high waterfall
plunged down a vertical cliff, interrupted by a tiny lake on a rocky ledge.
Then, unexpectedly, just before we crossed the 10,300-foot-high
divide,.one lone snow-white flower poked its blossom up out of a crack in the rock. Just
one. There wasnt another as far as I could see in any direction.
Amazed, I thought, "You foolish little flower! Why are you even
trying to grow up here? It's too cold! Too harsh! You're too fragile! You can't
We went on across the crest, around a large snowfield, down past a
lovely sapphire-blue glacial lake and a nearby deep green one, then down a brushy side
canyon to the main trail 2,000 feet below.
And I began thinking.
I thought about that beautiful flower. Its fragility was in such
contrast to the mighty mountains! But then I remembered abundant broken rock working its
way down from the heights, and the "Boom! Boom! Boom!" of a large boulder
crashing down a nearby canyon. I thought about the harsh alpine weather that wore those
impregnable-looking peaks a tiny fraction of an inch lower each year.
And every year a few more of those delicate flowers appeared, taking
root in new crevices.
Then I thought far ahead. I saw those mountains worn down to hills -
covered thickly with the descendants of those fragile, beautiful flowers.
The rocks were stronger. But the flowers were more patient. In the end,
they would win.
Love is like that.
In the end, its "flowers" (gentleness, peace, faith, and
hope) will defeat Satans works lies, hatred, selfishness, and failure to help
"Love goes on forever" (1 Cor 13:8).
"The more I think about it,
the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others." - Vincent