BY Debbie Eaton
Text: Luke 24:13-35, John 15:1-17
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
– 1 John 4:11-12, NLT
It was these verses from 1 John chapter 4 that first challenged me to live with the conviction that people are never interruptions but divine appointments to show and express God’s love. This is the ultimate act of being hospitable—to welcome and walk with others in love.
I spent several years walking alongside women, developing, encouraging and leading them to better understand that they matter to God and have tremendous influence. So when I lost my job earlier this year, I was shocked and devastated. It was very unexpected and I found myself questioning God, wondering whether loving others was truly of value.
Job loss, family crisis, conflict, gossip, comparison, jealousy… these are grievances we are bound to experience as we walk with others in love. We run the risk of being hurt, of experiencing loss, of being devastated and asking God: Is love worth it?
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
– Mark 12:29-31, NLT
God first commands us to love and abide in Him. He is jealous for our love! He walks in our presence every moment of every day. He lives in us, therefore equipping us to walk alongside others in love. We are the representation of the invisible God! So as we walk hand in hand with God, we are able to walk with others by:
Seeing them with unfiltered eyes.
Slowing down to listen, pray and encourage.
Forgiving when forgiveness transcends understanding.
Loving without condition.
This kind of hospitality is only possible in Jesus.
I’ll never forget the day I broke the news of my job loss to my teenage son. He has grown up as my sidekick and I knew I had to tell him. That Friday afternoon driving home from basketball practice, I shared the news with a tear-drenched face. When we stopped at a red light, he put his hand on my shoulder and spoke these words over me. “Mom, you are loved because you have loved well. You don’t need to have that job or any job to love others. You will always love and, in return, others will love. That is what Jesus teaches us and how He commands us to live.” The way the Holy Spirit spoke through my son that day still brings me to tears.
My son understood and reminded me of the lesson the two men learned on the road to Emmaus: Being with Jesus changes us. He is the reason we love. He is the reason we welcome others. When we abide in the Lord, He loves us and we can then love. He teaches us, and we learn and pass it on.
Because the Savior says to us, “Walk with me,” we can walk with others.
Pray that you will have the eyes to see who God puts in your path to love today.