Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: … you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, your entire mind, and all your strength. 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Matthew 12:29 – 31
When a loved one is no longer with you on a daily basis it brings a void to your life. A portion of your soul feels empty. You miss conversations with them, miss the laughter and encouragement they conveyed, miss the sense of well-being the loving touches, hugs, and kisses brought, and you miss the overall emotions of joy and peace you felt when they were around.
Life can bring separations in various ways, moving to a new state, incarceration, marriage, divorce and the hardest; death. A dear friend of our family passed away this week and although we no longer saw the person on a weekly basis because we have moved away five months ago it still hit very close to home. It brought great sadness to our heart and from a distance we mourned with the family and our former church by sending loving encouragement to our friends and family.
It also brought great reflection because although it is never easy to lose someone it seems more difficult when one leaves unexpectedly. It has a way of stopping your daily activities by requiring you to think about whom and what are the main things in life; requiring thoughts about whether you are thankful for people or if you take them for granted. During the process it becomes evident that sometimes what we take for granted are really supposed to be the “main things”.
Jesus tells us in Matthew what the two MAIN THINGS in life should be; loving God and loving others.
Our walk with God is more important than anything else in life we do. Many times we allow our daily schedule to push out our time with God moving it down the priority list to a lower level then it should be. Jesus said himself that being in His presence is more important than the busyness of life (Luke 10:41-42). It is my firm belief that God is the main thing in our life and it is a life goal of mine to keep Him in the first position at all times but the reflection that came this week was the second thing God told us to make a priority; people and more specifically family.
I thought about how we take people for granted and unfortunately it can be those that are closest to us; those we love the most. As Christians we work to focus on the open door for sharing the gospel, we spend countless hours serving our churches; we work to be a light at our place of employment and to those in our neighborhoods. I realized I can do better in all of those areas but the spot light of reflection was my family.
While I believe I have done well loving my family in countless sacrificial ways I realized that just as serving God is not about the hours that I spend but the motive of my heart so is loving the people in my life. It’s not about what God can give to me; it’s about how I can serve Him and it’s not about what my family can do for me but how I can serve them. Jesus was our perfect example of loving sacrificially and to truly become like Jesus I must live the same way. Jesus gained mankind when He sacrificed His life and we too will gain our family’s love when we lay our life down for them. He gave His life because He loved His Father first and people second; the motive of His heart was to please His Father. The motive for loving our family should be the same, pleasing our Father.
Years ago I received insight from the Holy Spirit on how important family is; a very special person in my life was removed by incarceration. It came un-expectantly and in many aspects it felt like that person had died. I was deeply saddened. I wondered why we take the people we love for granted and why we don’t live each day with our family and friends as if we’re not going to have tomorrow.
During this time God showed me that when we truly receive all of His love we become whole. The cross was His greatest act of love which provided our salvation but removes all hurt and pain that has been inflicted upon us by life. He also showed me that in our day to day living He provided a vehicle to physically show us His love; the gift of our family.
Our family was given to us as a vehicle that God uses to love us from birth until death. God’s presence directly loves our spirit but in addition to that God shows us His love in many ways in life and most of those ways require PEOPLE to be the messenger for Him. People show us affection and physical love that our bodies are created to receive, they give us encouragement that our souls must have to peacefully survive, they give us resources that are essential to life on earth. God chose people to LOVE for Him, and we can only effectively do this important job if we keep the “Main Thing” the “Main Thing”; loving HIM so that by His grace we can love others.
FAMILY, those He predestined and hand selected to be the closest to us, the ones who will go through life’s hardest trails and greatest battles with us, those who consistently lay their life down for us. Family is not limited to your blood relatives and in some cases (such with adoption) there are no blood ties; these are the people that God has placed in your life, who want to be in our life, who accept you for you are and love you no matter what. These are the people we should place highest on our list of priorities because our earthly life would not be the same without them.
• • Why do we sometimes take our family for granted?
• • Why do we allow distance, strife, bitterness, complacency and busyness to alter our closest relationships?
• • Why do we give more time to things that we think make life more successful a higher priority than loving our dearest family and friends whether miles away or in the same house?
• • Why does it take tragedy in life to jolt us back to the truth that our relationship with God and our family are the two most important things in life?
• • Why are we willing to make attending a funeral a high priority? One that we will take off work and travel many miles for but we allow communicating love to people to be a lower priority than our jobs and other activities in life?
This week I reflected on these things and the questions stirred my heart and I am committed to the main things; my relationship with God and my relationship with people. I am grateful for my family and friends and on purpose I'm going to make showing them love in words and actions high priority and I am going to be God’s gift to them by LOVING them for HIM.