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FIRST-PERSON: The disciple’s path

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Turn on any form of media today and you’ll find people labeling each other with pejorative terms, political epithets, and personal insults. Social media actually emboldens individuals to criticize and characterize others without regard for truth in their analysis. This is the world we live in today. But as the disciples of Christ, we have His words to follow when He said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). How do we demonstrate that we are His disciples? We walk in love.

Walk in love

Throughout history, Christians who have followed our Lord’s words in John 13 have stood out like candles in the night. About nine hundred years ago, the Italian hillside town of Assisi was ensnared in the frenzy of fighting. The young Francis took part in the war and was captured and imprisoned, where he ultimately became quite ill.

The Lord, however, had other plans for this young man and as his health returned, he developed a zeal to follow in the steps of Christ. In his devotion to Christ, his heart was drawn  to the needy, the outcast, the poor, the beggarly, and the scorned of society. The change in him changed his community. For the rest of his life, Francis of Assisi preached Christ not just with words but with deeds of kindness. He never passed beggars without a burden for their needs. He never met the sick without praying for their strength. He embodied the love of God as he rejected the riches of this world for a life devoted to helping the impoverished in the name of Christ.

How do we walk in love?

Centuries later, we are still drawn to Francis of Assisi because of his demonstration of Christ’s love. He fulfilled John 13:35. Here are nine suggestions on ways to walk in love.

1. Be patient with others. When someone irritates you, look for something good in them. When a situation frustrates you, remember that your patience displays the patience of our Lord within us.

2. Be kind. Demonstrate kindness to others wherever you go. Even the smallest act can brighten the day of someone who will be blessed and encouraged by an unexpected act of kindness in their lives.

3. Don’t envy others. When you hear of someone’s good fortune, remember to instantly thank God for it. If you find yourself feeling frustrated that something good happened to someone else, confess it quietly as a sin and ask the Lord to give you a thankful heart for the blessing your friend has received.

4. Don’t brag about your own abilities. Learn to listen to your own words and to stop yourself whenever you find yourself boasting about your accomplishments. Let another person praise you and not your own lips.

5. Deliberately resist being prideful. A pride-filled person has their focused misplaced. Instead, focus on the Lord. Remember that every good gift comes from God, including your intellect and any talents you may possess. It all belongs to Him.  

6. Never be rude. When you have a conflict with anyone—your spouse, a stranger, or a someone who is being belligerent to you—endeavor to stay pleasant. Rudeness damages not only your reputation but it also reflects negatively on your testimony.  

7. Look out for the needs of others rather than your own. Practice putting others first.  Don’t complain when you don’t get your way, but instead seek to serve others in His name.

8. Don’t give in to provocation. Under-react to others when they are upset with you, knowing that a soft answer turns away wrath.

9. Don’t think the worst of others. Assume the best of others whenever possible. Seek to become a positive influence in the lives of those around you. The culture is filled with negativity; be a positive light in the darkness.

By now I am sure you realize that these nine points aren’t my invention. They’re from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” This is the Lord’s prescription, His definition of love, and it’s the attitude that paves the way for the Gospel in a time of rancor. Be a vessel of God’s love in a world filled with hatred and strife. Practice these nine rules for walking in love—God’s love always makes a difference!

    About the Author

  • David Jeremiah

    David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.

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