Recently a former student of mine passed away unexpectedly. It was very hard to see the Facebook post his siblings wrote about his passing. Honestly, he had a tough life and although many of the student ministry leaders and I tried to reach him and encourage him, there came a point where he simply stopped responding and stepped aside from any involvement with us. Sure we would keep up with him and talk with him when we’d see him around but we were never intentional about showing him the love of Christ consistently.
This caused me to pause and think, who am I loving over time? And that is the same question I will pose to you…who are you loving over time?
As a student minister I get a lot of opportunity to do this with teens over the years and I am thankful that I have so many that I have connected with long term and still encourage them today. But that isn’t a cop out either. There are other people outside of “my ministry” that I can be loving over time.
Who are the people we can love over time? They can be family members, co-workers, neighbors, teachers or administrators at our children’s school, a single parent we know, or someone at church that appears to be alone. Basically, anyone is someone we can share the love of Christ with over time. There are countless people that we come into contact with on a daily basis. The bigger question is how can you love them.
How do you love over time? 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 outlines so many great ways you can be loving people.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Want to be loving someone over time? Be patient, even when they tell you the same drama over and over again. You can honor and respect others, even when people trash them behind their backs. You can protect them, have hope in them, forgive and show them the love of Christ.
What if someone rejects your “love”? There will be people who, no doubt, reject the love you are trying to share with them. And, honestly, there will be people who try to take advantage of that and the support you give them. Our job is to not judge their responses, but continue to pray for them and reach out to them as we can to let them know that you still do care for them.
The reality is we can make an eternal impact in the lives of people each and every day by simply loving them where they are at with the love of Christ. Christ loved the unlovable, cared for the broken-hearted and we can follow that example as well. Who will you love over time starting today?