If We Don't Love People, How Can We Love God?
“When I asked myself the question, ‘Do I love God?’ I realized that I had to respond, ‘No,’ because of the way I was treating other people...”
On Sunday morning, one of our young leaders stood up to share the personal impact one of the Bible studies in Chapel had in his life. Over this past year, we have been looking closely at the different relationships God created, how sin affected them, and how we should live today as people who have put their faith in Jesus. This young man was part of the group of leaders who studied the lessons in advance and prepared them to share in the Chapel with others. He had been personally convicted by the lesson “Love God. Love Others.”
“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”
I John 4:20
“...When I was going through high school, I always wanted to be the best in my class. So, I would never help anyone else with their studies, because I didn’t want them to be better than me….I always thought that in order for me to love someone else, that person had to love me….I always thought that in order for me to help another person, I had to have an abundance…I realized through these lessons that those things are not right.”
Through this study, his eyes were opened to the fact that his lack of love for other people revealed a lack in his love for God, as well as a lack in his understanding of what God's love is and how it shapes our behavior.
“We’ve done a lot of studies this year,” he told me the other day, “But what I learned through that one continually comes back to my mind.”
“There aren’t enough trees left for me to make a living on charcoal anymore,” Mme L said stoutly. “I want to start a business selling food.”
Mme L comes from a cluster of families looked down on by many people in the community. She came to MACOL—Lemuel’s community business initiative—to ask for bulk food items on credit to start a small business.
Kerby, MACOL’s administrator, knew it was extremely likely that her business venture would fail and she would be unable to pay her debt.
But, MACOL exists to serve the people of our community through business. This includes reaching out to offer a hand up to the most vulnerable. Seeing her situation, Kerby made an intentional decision to risk the possibility of a loss. He gave her food merchandise on credit to begin her business in the amount of $3000HTD. “I’ll bring it back to you before the end of the month,” she promised. But, his hopes weren’t high; we have all heard that before many times.
Only, she did.
Since then, she has continued to buy food on credit, sell it for profit, and faithfully pay her bill. Her success touches us all. She is able to provide for her family without being totally dependent on making charcoal—which is not only damaging to the environment, but is also hard physical labor for barely a subsistence living. Not only that, but she has proven more responsible in her paying her debts than many others who are in a far better financial position than she is.
At Lemuel, we long "to see people who were once enmired in poverty, able to produce positive change for themselves, their families, and their country to the glory of God" (our vision).
That is why we strive to "embody the love of Jesus Christ by combating poverty through holistic development" (our mission).
Although Mme L is not at this time a believer in Jesus, she is beginning to produce positive change in her life and family as Lemuel carries out its mission. It is our hope and prayer that as we strive to embody Christ's love for her, she will also be drawn to come to know Him Himself.