Love People at Christmas

The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  — Matthew 22:39 (CSB)

I don’t really love people very much. I’m an introvert with a critical attitude that can be sarcastic. I am not the life of the party.

But, I know from numerous Bible passages that I’m supposed to care for those around me. From the homeless guy on the corner to the neighbor living next to me, those in prison to the fatherless and the widow. Then you get into all one another verses for the church and you get piled on by direct commands to look out for, guard, sacrifice for, be patient with and put their interests ahead of your own.

But, what if I don’t want to?
If I don’t want to then I don’t want the things of God. It’s as simple as that.
Ok, so I DO want the things of God. What now?

I need to cultivate a heart for people so that I really do care about those around me.
I cultivate this attitude through knowing the heart of God in his word. I read the verses. I memorize the verses. I meditate on the verses – rolling them around in my mind. I share the verses with other people. I return to the verses. I know God’s heart for people because I have made myself preoccupied with it.

The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. –– 2 Peter 3:9 (CSB)

I also work on this attitude by praying about it. I ask God to melt my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh so I can feel. I ask God for his attitude to his lost sheep. I pray for emotional endurance to feel for people for longer than I have in the past. I stretch my heart in prayer. I also pray for people individually and have an app on my phone that reminds me each morning to pray for people.

If my head were a flowing spring, my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night over the slain of my dear people. — Jeremiah 9:1 (CSB)

Finally, I make myself be with people and listen to them. People are messy and it takes patience in order to connect with them. But, when I know what’s going on in their life I can feel empathy and put myself in their place. Doing this loops me back into the heart of God in his word and prayer.

I have had to do this for a long, long time and I can tell you that it works.

I love people. Maybe not as much as I should but I discipline myself to work towards it. This is God’s heart for me as he makes me more like himself and it’s God’s heart towards others as I get to be his hands, feet and heart towards those that I run into every day.

God wants you to love people. Do it little by little and you’ll love more and more. Especially at Christmastime when God’s love is on display. Let it be on display through you.