by Rhonda Rhea
I did battle with a goofy flu virus a few months ago. It was one of those bugs that seemed to circle the planet a couple of times. Those things are even worse when they hit the whole household. When all five of our kids were still at home, we had entire seasons when it felt like we were living in some sort of petri dish. What kind of culture even was that?
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if when a bug hits I could remember if I’m supposed to starve a cold or feed a fever. Or is the other way around? I usually decide to forget the whole thing and douse them both with lots of coffee. I also generally prescribe large doses of chocolate.
And while coffee and chocolate may have a side effect or two themselves, it’s not anywhere near as bad as some of those medicines. Have you read the warning labels on those things? Not that I had planned to operate any heavy machinery anyway. Seriously, who is this person who has to be continually warned not to get heavily medicated and then climb onto a forklift?
I’ve also wondered: instead of nausea, vomiting and varying intestinal distresses, why can’t they come up with a medication that has a warning label something more like, “may cause extreme kindheartedness and prolonged loving attitude”? You hardly ever see that.
I guess it’s mostly because a loving attitude is not one of those side effects that “just happens.” We have to cultivate it. We have to encourage it to grow. Sounds a little moldy but hey, that’s how we got penicillin. And it could change the culture—in our churches, outside our churches and all around them. There’s power in the love of God and in seeing His children love each other that’s world-altering.
We’re instructed all through the Word of God to love each other. To love each other with forgiveness. To love each other with sacrificial service. To love each other with generosity, caring for each other’s needs. We’re told to love each other the way Christ loved us. We’re told even further to love each other by coming alongside and helping carry the loads of others. “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2, HCSB).
Loving, feeding, helping each other—it’s not simply a good lifestyle plan. As followers of Christ, it’s our law. We have an obligation to love and to climb underneath the heavy load of a friend in trouble.
No one understands bearing another’s burdens like our Savior does. He climbed under the impossibly heavy weight of the sin of the world. He fulfilled the law to offer us grace. Jesus did that out of His great love. Then He told us to love with that same kind of love. In John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
As we’re willing to step into the difficult, ugly, germy battles of another, we’ll find that He will feed us in every way we need to be fed. And He can starve our selfishness every place it needs to die. Cultivating love. It really will change our culture.
Meanwhile, back near the petri dish, I’m all better, thanks. I feel so good I’m half tempted to go out and operate some heavy machinery. Just because I can.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” John 15:12 ESV
About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upper, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Road, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.
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Join the conversation: How do you cultivate love and kindness in your life?