Living the Difference

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18 ESV

My world looks and feels a little different these days.

My family and I just returned from a week in Jeremie, Haiti where we served alongside Haiti Bible Mission over our boys’ Thanksgiving break.

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I have never witnessed such a glaring contrast in my surroundings. Nestled amid God’s glorious display of some of the best He has given us— amazing turquoise seas, lush jungle landscapes and rolling green mountains—bare feet walked dusty roads littered with trash, and half dressed children played in the streets, hungry for both food and attention.

My heart broke for them.

But then again, I had prayed before I ever boarded that plane to cross the sea that God would pierce my heart and open my eyes to see the people of Haiti like He sees them.

I had asked for it, and still it caught me by surprise.

The first time we stepped out of the truck and began walking down the street along the poverty stricken waterfront, a wave of emotion swept over me with such force, I had to ask God to strengthen me to keep on walking without tears.

Oh, how He loves them! My heart swelled with compassion. His compassion.

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5

God sees those people the same way He sees you and me. He loves them. He died for them. He longs to save them. And He’s looking for people who are willing to show them.

Yep. That’s what I said. Not tell them. Show them. People are supposed to see who God is when they look at you and me.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:20a

When people look at you, dear one, do they see Jesus?

Last week I had the privilege of seeing some of those ambassadors at work. I watched the HBM staff loving people, not just with words but through their actions. And when love is demonstrated instead of talked about, it moves people. Just like Jesus moved people.

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That day along the waterfront, the HBM team spent time and built relationships. They asked people to show them where there was need, and then they joyfully did what they could to meet it.

Carrying ladders and supplies, they moved from house to house, fastening tarps on the roofs of needy homeowners so they could keep out the rain.

Tying a tarp onto a roof seems a pretty small thing. It didn’t take much time. It didn’t even take much money. But you should have seen the smiles on the faces of those who received them!

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Then we bowed our heads together in the street, praising God and blessing the families in the name of Jesus.

The next day a man approached us in the street, hugging Pastor Mark and thanking him for the tarp. Grinning from ear to ear, he said, “It rained and I did not get wet.”

That man showed up as a first time visitor in church on Sunday.

In fact, three new people entered God’s house in worship for the first time as a result of a few men taking an hour to hang some tarps.

You see, love that gives draws people to seek the Giver.

God doesn’t just feel love in His heart toward mankind, dear one. He demonstrates it (Romans 5:8). And if you and I are going to be ambassadors through whom God makes His appeal, we need to demonstrate love too.

But here’s the good news. We don’t have to visit a foreign country to show God’s love. We can do it wherever we are.

Yes, God has commissioned us to carry His gospel to the ends of the earth. But He also mentions quite a bit about our neighbors.

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 NIV

What if you and I stopped worrying about what we’re supposed to tell people about Jesus and just started loving people? What if we asked God to change our hearts and open our eyes to ways we can bless people around us and make a difference in their lives?

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It doesn’t have to be big things. It may only require a little time. But when we bless others, the life and love of Jesus gets poured out, and that changes things.

We may even find ourselves caught in the tide.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25

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