Waiting for an Invitation

A Christian is one who follows Jesus as his Lord.  Instead of serving our own desires and conforming to what our surroundings tell us to be and do, we have found the freedom and life found in Jesus alone! How wonderful it is to follow our Master, for he is loving and His burden is light.  I never realized what a load I had been carrying until I came to Jesus and found strength and rest.  But what about the many people around us who have not yet learned of Christ and the hope and strength He offers?  Sure, we know God has told us to share the truth with them, but what if they think we’re weird?  Surely if they want to know what faith in Jesus is, they’ll just ask?  No.

lydia peekaboo

A Needed Invitation

Though you may not believe it at first, there are many people all around you who want to know spiritual truth.  They would gladly converse with you on the subject and even come to your church with you to see what it’s all about.  But guess what, they’re not going to tell you that!  And you can’t identify them by just looking.

What Do the Numbers Say?

According to a Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research “…many would respond to an invitation from a friend or acquaintance (41 percent), their children (25 percent) or an adult family member (25 percent).”  (Read these stats in detail here.)  The difficult part for many Christians about asking a friend or acquaintance to church is this:  what if they say no???  Allow me to let you in on a little secret.  Most will say no.  Gasp!  😀

Collecting No’s

The stats are going to vary greatly for any specific person and set of circumstances, so for simplicity let’s just assume that 20% of friends you invite via personal invitation will actually attend church with you.  Of those who attend, some will never return, some will return a few times, and some will be radically changed and become followers of Christ.  How many people will say no to your invitation in order for you to find one person who will hear the Holy Spirit’s voice and turn from sin to faith in Jesus?  Ten?  Sixty?  Two thousand?

Does it matter?  Is it worth it to bring one lost soul to the feet of your loving Savior, so that he may taste the love and salvation of Jesus as you have?  Can you imagine yourself standing before your Lord at the end of your life saying, “Jesus, I would have told people about you, but I just didn’t want to hear anyone tell me no.  It felt awkward.”

Ambassadors

We Christians need to trust God that He has people out there He is going to save.  He has put us where we are in our lives in order that we would take His Word to these people, to be the means by which they hear the gospel.  Christ died for sinners, and anyone who will place their faith in Him will be washed clean and declared righteous.

Go Get More of Both

Instead of viewing negatively an answer of, “no,” to our invitation to come and see Jesus, we should view it as a victory—that’s one more person in the denominator.  For every 100 friends you ask, some percent of them are just waiting to be asked, to come and hear, and to find rest and peace for their souls.  It is God’s plan that they will be saved.  And it is God’s plan that a Christian would share the good news with them.  Will you be that Christian?  Or will God use someone obedient?  Embrace the no’s, they are part of the process.  The more invitations, the more no’s, and naturally, the more yeses.  Let’s be the church we are called to be: let us come together for equipping and encouragement to take the gospel out to the very ends of the earth.  Lord Jesus, lead us on, show us how, and may your will be done.

A Beautiful Bride

A beautiful bride walks down the aisle, radiant in beauty and wearing a magnificent white dress.  Her family and friends look on in delight and hopeful admiration—this is the day when she will be joined in marriage to the love of her life.  The couple stands before the pastor with stars in their eyes and vow exclusive devotion to each other above all others, and commit, “till death do us part.”  Fast-forward nine months and we’ll often find an altogether different scene.  This same woman shouts at the top of her lungs, “You’re always leaving your stuff all over the house!  Do I need to give you a map to the laundry basket?”  Her husband, the one who stood at the altar confessing his undying devotion, shouts back as he slams the door in her face, “screw you, I’m going to the bar!”  What has happened?  Why do couples go from starry-eyed lovers to enemies, and how can we create thriving marriages that last?

IMG_7611-812

The Right Atmosphere

Look around you.  Of the ten people you spend the most time around, how many are couples with strong and healthy marriages?  We make small choices each day, such as who we spend time around, without realizing how these choices significantly affect our outlook, worldview, and habits.  If the people around you typically belittle and mock their spouses, this will begin to seem to you to be normal and acceptable behavior.  Over time, speaking negatively about your spouse will start to program your brain to think less of your spouse.  Conversely, spend time around couples who speak well of each other, and you’ll start speaking more positive, and begin thinking more highly of your spouse.  When you recognize how wonderful your spouse really is, you’ll appreciate what they do more, and you’ll naturally give them more praise and affection.

What we’re really talking about here is creating the right atmosphere.  When godly people spend time around each other and living out the Lord’s way day by day, it creates this incredible atmosphere that lifts each and every person.  We strengthen and challenge each other to reach greater heights, and we make excellence the norm.  It’s a beautiful and constant growth process, and it’s how those wise and loving couples who’ve been married for 50 years became what they are.  Brick by brick, step by step, getting around other winners and creating an atmosphere for everyone to build a thriving marriage.

Making the Time

In addition to getting around credible leaders, it’s important that we make time to enjoy our spouse.  With work, kids, the house, friends, and getting involved in the community, it’s really easy to let activities and commitments take over your calendar.  While these things are all good things, if they cause us to neglect our spouse, we’ve traded the great for the good.

A wise friend taught me the following great habit: once a day, once a week, once a month.  Once a day, kiss your spouse.  And I don’t mean just a peck—it had better last more than 20 seconds.  Once a week, spend time together talking (while looking directly at each other and not doing anything else).  And when your done talking do something fun just the two of you.  Go for ice cream, play a game, have a cup of coffee and recount fun stories.  Once a month do a real, extended date.  Dinner and a movie, or take her to a show she’ll like.  Or maybe have a picnic at the park.  Be creative, be romantic, and make it fun!

The Third Cord

The final piece is by far the most important.  Think of your marriage as a rope.  You are one piece of string, and your spouse is another piece of string.  The point of marriage is that the two become one.  But if you have only two cords to twist together, it will unfurl in the tough times.  Only when a third cord is in the marriage can the cords be braided and the marriage have the full strength needed to stand firm.  That third cord is Jesus, and the main purpose of marriage is to serve and honor Him.  A marriage that is entered into for some reason other than Christ is ultimately done for self.  If I marry my spouse because I want her to make me happy, I will have a big problem when she ceases to make me happy.  If she’s no longer pleasing me and giving me what I want, the marriage has no reason to go on.  I’ll simply want to file a divorce and go out and find someone else who will fulfill my needs.

If, on the other hand, I enter into marriage for the purpose of worshiping and honoring Christ, my commitment is not based upon my spouse’s performance.  I will love her and remain faithful to her for the sake of Christ.  Even when she fails to love and respect me well, I will continue loving and serving her anyway, for this is my charge from my Lord.  My life belongs to Jesus and I serve Him because that is my purpose.  God, help me to live out this high calling you have given me, each day and every day for You.

Being an Iron Sharpener

Are you a blessing to those around you?  Should you be?  If so, what does it take to effectively speak into their lives, encouraging them and helping them to live a thriving life?

mt shivano

Those Who Have Helped You

God has designed us for community—we grow through our interactions with others, as iron sharpens iron.  Who are some of the people who have been most positively influential in your life?  Are you glad they took time to sharpen you and help you grow?

You Are a Valuable Resource

Perhaps we know that we should be building up others and helping them to grow in wisdom and truth, but we find it challenging to speak into their life effectively.  Or sometimes, we may think, “who am I to think I can help them?”  It is only when we recognize that we don’t have all the answers that we can be used by God to work His purposes in the lives of those around us.

Two Keys Make Up the Bridge

Think of a bridge over a wide river.  One bank represents the thriving life we are all called to live.  The other bank represents a person God has placed in our life.  We desire that our friend has the thriving life that he wants, the life that’s effective for the Lord’s Kingdom and our community.  In order to bridge the space between, we will need two keys.

Knowing the What

The first key is knowledge and wisdom of what a thriving life looks like.  Those wise men who have mentored us are a good resource for this knowledge, and of course the principle source of all wisdom is the Holy Scriptures.  As we read and study God’s Word, we learn what He is like and over time we see a clearer and clearer picture of what a Christ-life really looks like.

Knowing the Who

The other key is personal.  We must know the person we’re speaking to.  It’s fine to share general knowledge—in fact, what you’re reading now is this very thing: generalized knowledge shared publically.  But to really build up others around us and be effective in being the iron sharpening iron, we must have relationships.  And not just realationships on the surface, but real and deep relationships.  How easy it is to let our interactions with others remain shallow and casual, but this is not the thriving life we’re called to.  Instead, we must choose to take an interest in people, really value them for who they are, and listen to them.

Start Now

Tomorrow, ask God whom he would have you reach out to.  Go to that person and ask them about their favorite topic:  themselves!  Start with something like, “so how long have you worked here?”  “Oh, really?  Well how did you come to work here?”  Listen to what they share, and ask them follow-up questions.  You will be surprised how quickly they will go into detail about who they are and what drives them.  Don’t fake interest, really be interested and keep asking them to explain more.  In so doing, you will have discovered the second key—cultivating authentic relationships.

Be a Blessing

With these two keys, we can all become more effective iron-sharpeners, ready to be used by our Heavenly Father to affect His purposes. We will be more of a blessing to those around us, and as we all grow in this path, we help each other to live more of a thriving life!

Could Four Minutes Really Matter?

Have you ever had a day get off to a rough start, and you felt behind all day?  Maybe your coworker rushed into your office before you’d had a chance to check your email, upset and needing your immediate assistance.  Your plans for the day get all thrown off, and you may feel like control of your time and activity perpetually eludes you.  Anything here sounding familiar?  How did you respond?  Are there things you and I can do in these circumstances to not only get through the day, but actually thrive?  How can we take such a day and still use the time to make progress towards the growth we want and the goals we’re pursuing?

100_2034

What Truly Must Be Done?

If you’re anything like most of us, you have some daily habits and routines that feel like they’re essential. For example, I usually check my email messages in the mid-morning then head up to the coffee machine for a tasty brew.  Although these are my typical habits, they aren’t absolutely necessary, and on days where large unexpected demands fall on me, they can be jettisoned.  The key when stuff is flying at you is to stay clearheaded and in control.  Even if people around you are getting frantic, take five minutes to get away.  Use this time to identify the three most important priorities that must happen before the end of the day, and write them down in order.

Forgo the Unnecessary First

Once you’ve put out the preverbal fire, get going on your first priority right away.  Taking back control of our day is going to involve forgoing some of our usual routine, but often this is what it takes.  Unfortunately, some days there is simply more to be done than can possibly fit.  Rather than running frantically from one task to the next, and spending our whole day out of control, we can be intentional and spend our time first on the most important things, and since something will fall through the cracks, let’s choose the lowest priority task to be the one.

Resist the Couch

Finally, on days like these, when you finally finish your work, get home and eat, clean up and do whatever chores need doing, we face the last challenge of the day:  the temptation to neglect our personal growth and pursuit of our goals.  On a day that was particularly hectic, I probably didn’t get a workout in, and I’d really like to lounge on the couch and watch a show for twenty minutes before bed.  I probably don’t feel like reading, connecting with my spouse, or spending time in the Word and in prayer with my Heavenly Father.  Now is where I have a choice:  do I throw in the towel for the day, or do I commit to doing these vital activities that will cause me to grow and move closer to my goals?

Don’t Forgo the Important

Never underestimate the difference a small amount of focused activity can make in your life when practiced daily.  I can absolutely and personally attest to the huge difference that even a four-minute workout can make to one’s fitness and health.  Many times in my life, I’d succumbed to the easy solution after a hard day at work, and plopped down on the couch.  When a one- or two-day break from my exercise regimen turned into a four- or five-day break, I found I paid a heavy price on the day I finally did make it back into the gym.  But I have since learned that even a very quick workout—perhaps nothing more than a few minutes of pushups (pushing myself as fast and hard as possible) can get my blood moving, my muscles and lungs working, and can sustain me until the next day when I can get a full workout in.  It seems like such a small thing that it couldn’t possibly matter, but it truly does.  And the same goes for my other habits in contributing to my growth.  Maybe I only read 8 pages of a good book when I’ve had a super busy night.  But I can focus on learning to the best of my ability during the short period of time, and the benefits are undeniable.

As the following article suggests, remember to be grateful: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/beauty-aging/9-self-care-tips-will-help-become-confident/ Sometimes when we get busy, we are apt to forget to be grateful for the many incredible blessings we enjoy. Take the time to thank God for the many wonderful things He has given you–and you might step back into your day with an entirely different perspective.

Building Blocks

Chose to avoid statements like, “I just don’t have time to work out,” or, “I’d love to read good books, if only I had the time.”  Let’s all make a  commitment to each other never to waste our time speaking such nonsense—just use the time you’re saving by not spewing such ignorance to be that four-minute workout, 8-pages of reading, or time of prayer.  These are the building blocks we use to build our thriving life, and I thank you for coming with me on this journey of growth together!

How We Program Ourselves

On your way into work tomorrow, what thoughts will run through your mind?  If you’re like most of us, your natural inclination will be something like, “here comes another day at the grind!  I hope I don’t see Jim today, he’s such a loudmouth!  I can’t wait till the weekend’s here!”  But do these thoughts help you? Or are they helping to create the very kind of day you dread?

Despondent Lisa

Want Control?  Take It!

Setting our expectations and our outlook for the day—or even for the next moment—is totally within our control.  Would your morning be better if you chose to speak something better to yourself while walking from your car to the office?

Let Wise Men Teach You

Zig Ziglar once said, “Positive thinking won’t let you do anything, but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”  This is great advice from a great man!  When’s the last time you took control of your circumstances and made a decision to have a great morning?  Why let circumstances dictate our life to us? Do you really believe that telling yourself that your coworkers are rude and your work is boring does you any good? How about when you say things like, “it doesn’t matter how hard I work or what good things I do, no one notices anyway.”  Do these statements help you, or hurt you?

Attitude and Response

Simple as it sounds or silly as it sounds, you make the choice every day whether your day will be great or a dud.  Things outside your control will still happen.  Some may be pleasant, others not—but your attitude going in and your response coming out are both things you choose.  If you’re really interested in living a thriving life, right now’s a good time to start!  What kind of day will you make today?

The Root of Anger

Anger, disappointment, resentment, hurt:  these are emotions we’d prefer to avoid.  If we could choose, we’d rather live happy, content, and fulfilled, wouldn’t we?  What if there was a way to significantly reduce the amount of time we spend angry or hurt?  If we understand the root cause of these negative emotions and the negative situations they lead us into, we can find victory and spend more of our time cultivating excellent relationships and enjoying the time we have.

0601131012

Our Many Gifts

We enjoy so many incredible blessings in our everyday life.  Just think about the comfortable bed you slept in last night, the delicious dinner you ate, and the people around you that truly and deeply love you.  We could spend all day listing all the great things in our lives—things given to us by the Maker of all things.

We desire good things—and there’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it is good to enjoy and appreciate all the wonderful blessings we have every day.  But there is a good way and a bad way to hold these blessings.  One will give us great fulfillment and thankful hearts, while the other will produce the harmful emotions listed above.

With Open Hands?

The difference is this:  do you hold your gifts with open hands or closed fists?  You see, when our desires are met, we have a choice.  We either recognize that the blessing that we received is a gift of God, or we start to close our hands around it and begin thinking we own it.  As we neglect to thank God for a particular blessing, we slowly close our grip around it, wishing to keep it within our possession.

The Enemy works gradually, taking some new blessing and day by day inducing us to feel more and more that we earned it, we deserve it, and we need it.  Once we view that blessing as something we need, we will react in anger when it is threatened.

Thankful to Expectation to Need

Consider the simple act of a man writing a love poem to his wife every week.  When he first begins this act of love and appreciation, his wife may be delighted!  She feels loved and cherished, and expresses her thanks to him.  But over time, as the notes continue to come week after week, this blessing may turn into an expectation in her mind.  She begins to think she deserves these notes, and her husband owes them to her.  If he misses one week, she will feel emotions of disappointment, resentment, or even anger.

But this is all rooted in a choice—if the woman in the story above simply appreciated the love notes as a blessing, she will each week feel the emotions of thankfulness, happiness, and love when her husband gives the poem.  If one week the husband should fail to present a poem, she will miss it, but that’s all.  She only feels anger, hurt, and resentment when the gift is expected and assumed.  Put another way, she will feel anger and disappointment when her need for her weekly poem isn’t met.

What’s Yours?

Perhaps this seems silly to you, that a woman should come to need an expect a poem from her husband every week.  But what about you and me?  Are there not blessings in our life that we one didn’t have, now have, and now expect we shall always have?  God has bestowed amazing gifts upon you and me—do we hold them with an open hand?

The Example of Open Hands

Job is was one of the richest men in the world in his day—not only in material wealth, but also with many children, as well as the love and respect of his neighbors.  In one day, it was all taken from him, and yet his response was this:  “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).

Are there things you expect from those around you?  Do you need and demand that your coworkers speak well of you, such that when they disparage you you become angry?   Do you expect your mentors to have perfect understanding in everything they teach and council you?  Do you expect you spouse to always be there to meet your needs and do the things you want them to do?

What Perspective Will You Choose?

Let’s make the decision today to stop letting anger have root in our hearts.  If we will recognize that the blessings we enjoy each day are gifts—gifts that are not promised to be there tomorrow—we will increase our reliance upon the Lord, our appreciation of His grace, and the moments of life that bear the hallmark of peaceful contentedness.

Success in Reaching Your Goals

Can you believe 2014 is here already?!  I hope you had a great year, and I further hope that you’re looking to make the coming year even better!  One good thing that many people do is to use the new year as a time to set goals to improve themselves—this IS a good thing, IF we take these resolutions seriously and succeed.  Unfortunately, in many cases, our lofty goals are left unfinished and our resolutions are abandoned before a full month has even passed.  How can you separate yourself from the masses and actually achieve your plans for growth in 2014?

Wedding

If you have the desire to live healthier, improve your finances, grow in your spiritual walk, or any other goal for living a more rewarding and successful life, take advantage of your desire by applying the most significant key to success in fitness or any other area of life:  adopting new habits.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Take a simple example of a short-lived new year’s goal of losing weight.  One’s natural inclination after a whole December (or whole 2013) of overeating and inactivity is to overcorrect.  We think that to even out big meals over the last several weeks, we should break our year-long fast of jogging by running 5 miles.  We take the high enthusiasm to get fit and convert it into a short burst of high activity.  But we tend to neglect a few important steps.

The Big Challenge:  Change

First, we fail to recognize that adopting a new routine involves one of the most difficult things there is:  changing one’s habits.  One big mistake at this point is that we try to accomplish this feat alone.  Accountability is absolutely essential to get into and stay with the routine of working out regularly, week after week.  Find a friend who has success in the area you’re pursuing growth in.  Decide how often and for what duration you will connect for accountability and encouragement, and specifically what goals you will pursue.

Write it Down

This leads right into the second necessary step for getting and staying fit:  setting goals and writing them down.   Make sure your goals are  specific, measurable, that they have a due date.  For example, if your goal is to get in better shape, the following goal serves as a good example.

I will improve my one-mile run time to below 7:00 minutes and lose 10 pounds by February 15.

To accomplish this, I will exercise for 20 minutes, three times per week using the ThriveFit program.  I will write down my workout results every day, and email a weekly report every Sunday evening to my fitness mentor to seek his feedback.

Instant Feedback

Notice how this is a specific plan with set dates and times and clear markers to shoot at.  The reason this is such an important step is that it gives you a standard to measure yourself against for immediate feedback should you start to falter.  Without this plan, you’ll tend to let your habits slip little by little as the days go by, until you are left back where you started, and with a vague sense of dissatisfaction with yourself.  With clear goals and a specific schedule to reach them, you’ll know immediately when you’re getting off course.  In addition to that, the goal or dream that you’ve identified will help motivate you on the days when you don’t feel like doing the work.

Let Us Help!

Remember, changing habits is hard, and our aim is to create good long-term habits for a better life.  Don’t kill yourself on the first day such that you can’t move tomorrow.  Keep your focus on identifying and executing effective and sustainable habits.

Our ThriveMart store has a wide array of great products to support you in a healthy and successful life.  Just comment on our facebook page or send us a message and we’ll help you identify the right products for you.  And as always, be sure to check back with us each week for motivation and encouragement along the way—we’re here to help you thrive!

Keep Your Goal Before Your Eyes

Imagine your ideal life—how would it be different than what your life is like today?  Spend a few quiet minutes thinking on this, and you’ll find the key areas where you’re ready to set a goal.  Make your goal bigger that what you think you can do, in order to stretch you and challenge you.  This exercise can be inspiring, motivating, and exciting, but soon comes the hard part of getting it done!

100_0515

Can You Keep Going?

You can achieve the big goals that are currently out of reach, and the path there is simpler and more straightforward that you think.  But one thing is required:  consistent right action.  Take a physical example:  losing weight.  In order to drop that ten pounds, all you have to do is lose half a pound a day for twenty days.  How?  Increase your energy output and reduce your calorie intake—it really is as simple as that.  But, here’s the hard part—on day three, when you’re hungry and your body is sore, will you continue with the consistent right action of eating healthy and exercise, or will you take a break and let your goals fade into memory?

The Slight Edge Principle

Setting goals is important.  But alone, the activity of setting a goal may not bring you what you want.  Once you set a goal, you must commit to it, and keep the goal in front of your eyes.  Like many principles of success, this important step is easy to do.  But easy to do is also easy not to do, and oftentimes we skip this important step, to our own peril.

How to Keep the Goal in Mind

What does it mean to keep a goal before your eyes?  Well, first it means that your goal must be written down.  Have a number and a date (for example, run a mile in seven minutes by December 15, 2013) so you have a clear idea where you are going.  Next, find a way to bring your goal to the front of your mind every day.  Some helpful ideas here include writing your goal and taping it to you bathroom mirror.  Some people ask others to help keep them on track towards their goals by checking in with them every few days, or even pursuing a similar goal at the same time.  One idea that I found strange at first was to actually speak your goals out loud every day.  What at first felt very silly became a valuable tool in training my mind to see and take action toward my goals every day.  Whatever method you want to use, the main key is to keep your mind on your goal.

Your Mind Working for You

Your mind is an amazing thing, and if you take the time to focus it on your goals, you will be astounded how it starts seeing opportunities around you every day.  Stay committed, stay steady, and start down the path toward living the thriving life that’s waiting for you!

Respond or react?

What do you do when you negative things come your way?  When a friend disagrees with you and puts you down, do you lash out?  When your brother cancels your poker game at the last minute for the third time in a row, do you yell at him for being so irresponsible and unreliable?  What about when a coworker belittles your ideas and makes you feel small?  Do you react by gossiping about her behind her back?

100_0902

Your Choice

When people are unkind to us, we have two choices.  We can respond or we can react.  Reacting means doing what we naturally feel and allowing our emotions to choose our words.  In contrast, when we choose to respond to a negative situation, we use our mind and heart to overrule our emotions.

Is It Even About Me?

Often, when we are wronged, we incorrectly take the negative actions of another personally.  People are sometimes rude and inconsiderate, but many times this has nothing to do with you.  First off, if they are habitually rude, that has everything to do with them, and little to do with you.  In other instances, a person may not be habitually negative, but something negative has just happened in their life and they let their disappointment get the best of them.  In a few instances people are truly mean to you because they want to be.  But even in these cases, the right road is to respond, not react.

Forgive First

Each one of us has shortcomings, and as such we are bound to rub each other the wrong way.  When someone hurts you, can get mad and let your feelings boil over into harsh words against the wrongdoer.  Or you can choose to forgive them.  You can forgive, assuming they meant no offense; you can forgive assuming they let their emotions get the best of them, and you can even forgive in cases where it’s clear they were intentionally malicious.  You need not wait for their apology—forgive anyway.  If an apology comes, great!  If not, no big deal.

Create an Opportunity

If you will make the choice to live this way, and act with your will, mind, and heart rather than your emotions, your reward will be peace unknown to the masses who fail to respond and allow themselves to react.  Not only that, but those around you will notice your unusual behavior. They may even ask you why  you live so differently.  Can you think of a better opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Who’s your Neighbor?

Do you consider yourself to be a friendly person?  Would the people who see you, whether at work, as you leave your house, or at the supermarket, speak of how you sought them out in friendship and treated them great?  Do you routinely smile and greet those you pass on the street or in the hall, or is your daily focus primarily on yourself?

100_2204

Two Ignore, One Helps

Jesus was once asked by religious leaders who he considered to be his neighbor.  He responded with a familiar parable, the story of the Good Samaritan.  In this parable, we learn of a man who is beaten and robbed.  A few of his countrymen see his helpless condition, yet pass by on the other side of the road.  In contrast, a Samaritan, who is naturally an enemy to the Jewish victim, yet seeks him out, takes him to a doctor, and even covers the expenses for the man’s care.

We often hear this parable as a nice story, meant simply to induce us to be kind.  But remember back to what question Jesus was actually responding to when He told this story.  He was asked who his neighbor was.  Understanding this context gives a deeper meaning to the story than the simple truth that we are to be kind.

Look for Needs

The people of Jesus’ day, much like most people in our day, tended to happily exist in their own small sphere of influence, engaging with people who were like them and who they were familiar with.  Through this parable, Jesus shows clearly that we are to intentionally seek out others, others who may not be very much like us, in order to meet their needs.

The Greatest Need

What is the greatest need which many of our neighbors have?  For any who do not know Christ personally, who have not been washed and cleansed through faith in Christ, their greatest need is salvation of their soul.  Without atonement, mankind is separated from God’s good presence, and any who perish without Jesus will face eternity without Him.  The need for salvation is so widespread, little recognized, and of utmost importance that, if we are looking, we will see it everywhere.

This is the condition of many people we see and walk by each day.  The strangers who we’re ignoring are desperately in need of the truth, the truth that we know.  But someone needs to tell them.  Not only that, but most people aren’t particularly receptive to ideas unfamiliar to them being expressed by strangers.  So what can we do?  We share the gospel with them as a friend.

Be a Friend

Friendship doesn’t come instantaneously, but it can be cultivated in a relatively short period of time.  Start simply by adopting the habit of greeting and smiling at the people who cross your path each day.  You’ll quickly find that a great many people are eager to engage with you, particularly if you’ll ask them open-ended questions about themselves.

As you cultivate friendships with your neighbors, be listening for what they value.  Do they desire wisdom? Or perhaps peace and something solid to rely on?  Or maybe they’re contemplating what happens after death because of a recent loss in their family.  Remember that when you have Jesus, you have the truth and the life that our world desperately needs.  Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, share the truth, and let Jesus call out to the people in your life using you as His mouthpiece.  To God be the glory!