Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Advent 2019: Day 20 – Joy in Loving Others

Sometimes loving others can be a real chore.  They’re disagreeable, the situation might be depressing/awkward, or our life circumstances just make it hard.  Then again, we can be just as hard to love as well.  However, there is much joy to be found in loving other people and also when they love on us.

Love is a joy creator. When situations are tense and relationships are at stake, love can move that circumstance into a better place. Better places can lead to restoration, and restoration produces joy.  Anyone who has had a lost relationship restored understands the joy that reuniting brings.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

 

1 Peter 4:8 ESV

 

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

 

Proverbs 10:12 ESV

 

Love helps us keep our relationships civil and in tact.  Sometimes, relationships go through rocky times, but love will sustain that.  And when the reunion comes about, there is pure joy and all the wrongdoings are forgotten.  The story of the Prodigal Son is an example of this.

A son took his inheritance from his father (the father was healthy and living), ran away, squandered his money, had to eat with the pigs (definitely NOT what a Jew would do), and then returned home to his father, hoping to be a servant in his father’s household.  He knew what wrong he had done to his father both emotionally and financially.  When he returned to his father, there was no talk of being a servant.  His father threw a party!  That is how happy he was to have his son restored to him.

So he got up and went to his father.

 

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

Luke 11:20-24 NIV

 

That father was joyous! Did he forget what had been done to him? No.  Did it mean that what his son had done to him was ok?  No.  But he loved his son despite the wrongdoing.  That love enabled him to have absolute joy at his son’s return. Others in this story did not have such joy.  Love fosters an atmosphere that facilitates joy.

The Bible also tells us to take care of those who need help: the poor, widows, hungry, frail, etc.. It tells us that our deeds, if done with a loving heart, bring joy to the Lord.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

 

Hebrews 13:6 ESV

However, it doesn’t just bring joy to God.  It brings joy to the person and to yourself.  Think of Christmas time, when a kid’s parent is in jail.  The prisoner has no way of providing a gift.  They are lucky if they even see their child.  But a church steps in and provides the prisoner with a gift for their kid.  The joy comes when that prisoner gets to see their child’s eyes open wide with excitement. And that kid is filled with joy knowing their parent didn’t forget about them.  The joy doesn’t stop there.  Imagine the feeling that the church member feels, knowing that they helped a child and parent have a nice moment together in a life that is a struggle.

Have you ever helped someone out?  Someone who truly needs help is filled with joy at their needs being met.  The person who met their needs is full of joy at being able to show God’s love through helping.  Even if they didn’t want to help initially.

I think about the nursing home I recently visited with my daughter.  We went with a group to do crafts and caroling.  My daughter was afraid at first, as most kids are, because many people there have contraptions attached to them.  But as soon as she started talking with the residents, and interacting with them, that fear went away.  I watched as the residents’ eyes lit up with delight as they watched the chaos surrounding a group of early elementary school aged girls.  I saw their smiles as the residents listened to the songs the girls sang.  There was true joy in that room because the girls took the time to just spend time with them.

When we got in the car, my daughter told me how she was glad she faced her fear because she was so happy to be able to help the residents.  She talked about how much fun she had with certain ones and how she liked making them smile.  My little girl was given a heart full of joy because she helped spread love and joy to others.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

 

Romans 12:10 ESV

 

Let all that you do be done in love.

 

1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV

 

Someday, or maybe it’s already happened, you will be on the receiving end of that kind of love.  When it is given to you, joy will fill your heart as well.  This is how we have been created.  We are created to share God’s love and joy.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

 

1 John 4:11 ESV

So when you are running low on joy, take some time to sincerely love on another person.  Maybe they just need some of your time, maybe they need physical help, you might even do something anonymously … whatever it is that the Holy Spirit leads you to do, reach out and love on them.  See if God will not fill up your heart with joy while you do!


PRAYER

Holy Spirit,

Fill me your joy this season.  Show me ways that I can be loving toward others.  Help me restore relationships and keep relationships in a way that honors God.  When things are one-sided, help me to know what to do so that I bring glory to the Father.

Throughout this season, help me see others who are in need of love.  I want to bring some joy into their lives.  Help me to see their need and address it so that they can have joy and see your love.

Amen


EXTRAS

  1. In what ways can you show others love? Be specific.
  2. How can you share joy to others? Be specific.
  3. Are you low in joy yourself? Who can you reach out to in order to have some “fun” time?
  4. Have you spent time with God lately? Make sure you do so soon.  Being with him builds your relationship with him.

TRADITIONAL ADVENT READINGS FOR DAY 20

 

Psalms 40, 54

Psalm 51

Zechariah 7:8-8:8

Revelation 5:6-14

Matthew 25:14-30


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Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash


Posts for Advent 2019

Advent 2019: Day 24 – Jesus’ Birth

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth! What better way to observe Christmas than to read the account from the Bible.

Advent 2019: Day 22 – Peace

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