Theme of the Week: Impact for the Year
Bible Verse: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8
Scripture Reading: Romans 13:8-10
I recall several times when I would see a passing acquaintance in public and I would pretend that I didn’t see them or know them. Instead of stopping to talk, I simply poured the coal to it and chugged right along.
I don’t dislike their company, I’m not necessarily in a hurry, and I don’t think of myself as a snob. So, why?
The truth of the matter is that I’m terribly, perhaps awkwardly, introverted and that makes me painfully shy. I prefer solitude. I’m perfectly happy eating by myself or sitting on an airplane for hours with my thoughts. When I read in Mark 1:35 that Jesus “went off to a solitary place,” I joke that’s my kind of verse!
But I’m not introverted to the point of being dysfunctional. I’m sociable and interact with my world.
This past year, I think the Lord has been teaching me to be more outgoing and engage with people. It’s not like a lightbulb suddenly went on; I’ve been trying to come out of my shell for decades now.
It seems to be a combination of factors. Perhaps the pandemic taught me to value more face-to-face interactions. My church has also been emphasizing embodying Jesus everywhere we go, and I’ve been trying to take that to heart. A crystallizing moment was when it dawned on me that I’m so much friendlier on vacation than at home. I had to ask myself, “Why can’t I be outgoing like this all the time?”
Romans 13:8 says we have an ongoing debt to love one another. We owe it to others to love them. All the time. Everywhere—vacation or not. It’s the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbour. Jesus modeled it and called us to do the same.
In Christ, God has given me a good heart; I love people in general. Drivers commuting on the highway beside me, people at work or church, or my family, I wish everyone had fulfilling employment, experienced stable mental health, had marriages that wouldn’t end up in divorce, didn’t have to care for a loved one with cancer, and were all going to heaven. In my God-changed heart, I want to offer peace and goodwill to all people on earth all year round.
But I think God’s been whispering to me this past year that all my noble thoughts aren’t that helpful unless I ask people, “How are you doing?” and then stop to listen. I regret the past, when I avoided people because of my quietness. But all this willing introvert can do now is to embrace the opportunities that God presents to me going forward.
Prayer: Lord, You’ve made us all different. Thank you for my uniqueness. May my distinctive self engage authentically with people in my life, having no real agenda other than to love them from the heart, as You would want me to.
Reflection: Do you tend to avoid people? How can you allow God to shape you to engage more? If you’re eager to be with people, are you more interested in the other person or in talking about yourself? What does it mean to embody God’s love in an ordinary conversation with others?
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