Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
(Romans 12:9-13, ESV)
We want what we can’t have.
It’s so natural to search for that person/thing that is not available to us. Yet focusing on these things easily strips us of feeling loved or understanding our worth. It can deceive us into thinking there is nobody there for us.
Romans 12 calls us to “hold fast to what is good”–what nourishes us, what blesses us–and stick to those things. This can include those around us who are already pursuing us and uplifting us. Or better yet, this can include when God is speaking to us.
God can guide us in subtle ways by His voice. This is one reason why I love spending time in His Word. The more you get to know Him, the better you can distinguish His voice. Someone once gave me an excellent analogy. If you’re in a crowded room and you hear your mother calling you, you know it’s your mother. Why? Because you’ve spent so much time with her that you know what she sounds like. Similarly, when there seems to be confusion or “noise” in our lives, we know what God sounds like when we know what He would say (and the Bible is filled with exactly what His words are!)
The people in our lives can be used by God. This is one of the reasons why I value godly friendships so much. People who are also lead by the Spirit can bless you with words of encouragement that the Lord wants you to hear.
I found that when I do feel discouraged, God meets me where I am. Often times, I’ve seen His love through a random yet uplifting message/call, a surprise visit, or a hospitable act. Then when I take a step back in that moment, I realize how this person managed to encourage me exactly where I needed encouragement or even managed to be a direct answer to prayer. These moments are near-impossible for me to ignore because we live in a world in which we easily get lost in our own business. But when I see someone who is living in a way that rejects this pattern, I can’t help but notice and be grateful.
Those who constantly go out of their way to share God’s love through encouragement inspire me to be more intentional. When we intentionally encourage others we radiate Christ’s love. What’s so powerful, astounding, and beautiful about that is God might be using YOU to lead this person to something greater.
The best way to start is asking God, “How can I serve someone today?” This might be a painful process. God might be leading you to break down barriers in your heart that hinder you from encouraging others. This might mean forgiving someone who has done wrong to you, communicating with someone you refuse to speak to, etc.
Yet when you understand that God is guiding you and is not trying to harm you, you can seize the opportunities He is leading you to with a peaceful and open heart.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:13-14, ESV)