Loving people with intentionality Part 1

Have you ever felt like in spite of how unfaithful you are in your walk with God, He loves you more than the next person? I have had that feeling time and time again and have basked and reveled in that feeling that, of everyone in my world, God loves me the best!

As you read this you might think, “Well, that is not true! God does not discriminate!” And rightly so. However, God is intentional about the love He shows to each and every person on earth. He loves everyone the same and yet is He able to make each and everyone in their own way feel like He loves them the best!

Remember the parable of the lost sheep?

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. Matthew 18:12-13 NIV

This does not mean that the shepherd (Jesus) loved the 99 sheep any less. It just means that when God pursues you He is intentional about it and He makes you truly feel the length, the depth, and the breadth of his love.

Jesus is calling us all to this place of intentionally loving people: rich or poor; red, yellow, black, or white; prostitute or pope; gay or straight. When people come into contact with you they must leave that encounter feeling without a shadow of doubt that Jesus loves them the best… because…

…we live like Jesus here in this world. 1 John 4:17b


The Intentionality of Gracious Conversations

A couple of days ago, I spoke to a friend  who opened up to tell me she had been hurt by something I said over a year ago. I vividly remember walking away from that conversation a year ago thinking it was the most candid and the best conversation I have had with anyone in my social circle…so to find out that I had offended a dear friend.. boy did that crush me!

This morning, I woke up pondering how we could have had such differing perspectives to the same conversation and then this scripture came to mind:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV

So what does it mean to be gracious?

I found this definition online: Gracious people are kind and their behavior is characterized by tact.  A gracious person is a graceful person, someone who at least attempts to not hurt others’ feelings with clumsy words or thoughtless deeds.

Wow! I am truly humbled by this definition because that explains exactly how we offend people unbeknownst to us. The more I pondered over this scripture, I noticed a few more things:

Seasoned with salt: Salt flavors, salt preserves. So if I walk in and out of any conversation and I have not flavored the life of another with love, joy, peace, hope, faith… or if I have not preserved the dignity, the love, the peace, the joy, the hope, the faith of another then I have failed to be gracious.

Let your speech: It did not say God will let your speech…The onus is on me to be intentional about being gracious; about being tactful and purposeful about not offending anyone in my conversations.

Granted I am human; and sometimes regardless of how gracious I will try to be I will falter. But God encourages me that his Holy Spirit will help me if I am truly sincere and so I leave you all with this scripture:

Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Philippians 4:5 NLT


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