Christians are called to love. To love like Jesus requires grace! As I reflected last time, loving like Jesus means loving and giving and sacrificing with no thought of the reward. Jesus died for us without calculating a reward. He knew that a lot of people would forget Him, or not return His love. But He died for us anyway. And He freed us from the bounds and obligations of law! Now we live in grace, filled with His Spirit. And by His Spirit, we love our neighbors like He loved us.
When I help somebody out, I do it because I love them. I don’t do it so that I can get right with God by scoring charity points. I don’t need to! Jesus already got us right with God.
When I help build a well for an African village, it’s not because I woke up one day and said, “Oh, man, I need to kind of get some points in heaven, let me put a well in here.” No, I do it because I want the villagers to have clean water.
I also don’t put conditions on clean water. I don’t say, “I’m only putting this well in so that I get to talk to you about Jesus.” They need clean water. I know how much I benefit from clean water, and how much my children benefit from clean water. I want everyone to have that benefit, and that’s the reason for building wells. That’s loving your neighbor as yourself.
I don’t want to walk into a village, or into any situation of poverty, deprivation, or suffering, and say, “Accept Christ or rot in hell.” That’s not what Jesus did. Jesus asked people what they needed. You’re hungry? Here’s some food. You’re thirsty? Here’s some water. You’re sick, tired, or broken? Here’s some healing. He helped people when they had needs, and they loved him for it. Then He spoke into their lives, and they listened. They craved His message!
I want to have a voice too. Maybe the opportunity will arise to visit the people I’ve helped, and have a ministry into their lives. They’re going to wonder why I put a well in for them. They’re going to say, “Why did you do this?” And I’ll get to say, “Because I love you like Jesus.” And then we would talk about what water is to the body, because that is what Jesus is to our souls. I would tell them, “That’s why I wanted you to have water.”
And this is grace. Simple. I won’t go in there saying, “Well, the reason I put a well in this village was so I could talk to you about Jesus.” That’s the works mentality: “I will do this so that I can get that.” That kind of mentality is a trap, and we don’t have to fall into it. All we have to do is follow Jesus. He died knowing we’d forget Him, and He did it anyway. He loved us. He gave us His Spirit, and it lives in us. It lets us love each other like He loved us. We don’t worry about the returns. We focus on the relationships. Loving like Jesus? That is its own reward.