Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
Romans 10:12-15 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Two days ago, we picked up the most beautiful little, mini Schnauzer puppy. I named her Holly. She is a parti blue merle, and she has the cutest little face. I fell in love with her immediately, and she has become a new member of the Hodge family. I love animals, all animals! My husband and I have been referred to as the crazy critter people on more than one occasion. Yes, I do love my critters. They are very well fed and cared for, and they eat better than a lot of humans. I talk to my critters, and sometimes they listen to what I have to say. They give me great joy and comfort, but they don’t give me eternal peace. As much as I love them all, I realize that my critters do not have souls. They won’t spend eternity with me, and although they listen to me preach to them from time to time, they can’t receive the glorious gospel message. That message is reserved for my human Peeps.
C. H. Spurgeon once said, “Great numbers of persons have no concern about eternal things. They care more about their cats and dogs than about their souls.” When I read this, it saddened me tremendously. I do care greatly about my critters. I go to great extent to make sure they are comfortable and cared for, but do I care as much about the souls of man? Do I go through great extent to reach others for Christ? Is not sharing the gospel more important than cats and dogs and critters? I know that it is. So then why is it so much easier to talk to my critters than to share the gospel with the lost? It probably has a lot to do with being in the zone…the comfort zone that is. Yes, we tend to find our comfort zone in life, and it is hard to step out of that zone, but my friends, it is imperative that we do. It isn’t just life or death. Sharing the gospel doesn’t merely make a difference in the life of someone here and now. It has eternal consequences. Peeps, it is time to get out of our comfort zones. Lives depend upon it!
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words.” If we want to reach people with the gospel, we must begin by showing them love. I can not tell you how many times we have had a difficult patient register for a clinic visit. The person begins with an awful attitude with the receptionist. He may be rude to the nurse. He may even be using a little foul language, and by the time it is my turn to see the patient, I have been warned about what an awful attitude this guy has. I then have two choices. I can gear myself up to go in there and give back just as much as I get from him, or I can choose to show the love of Christ. Through my many years of practice, I have learned that the latter choice is the way to go. If I go in with a smile on my face and try my best to listen attentively to what is bothering the patient, nine times out of ten, the patient’s mood and demeanor change before he leaves the clinic. We have to listen to those around us, and sometimes listening does not mean literally hearing the words coming out of their mouths. We must pay attention to body language, demeanor, and in turn, give a loving, caring response. We can’t simply go around preaching the gospel, folks. We have to live it. We can’t merely talk the talk. We have to walk the walk. We must show the love of Christ in all of our actions and deeds.
True, genuine love is not man made. We can’t fake it either. Genuine love comes from an internal transformation that is facilitated by God’s love for us. When we are influenced by the love of God, our attention shifts from self to others. When we spend time in God’s word, we learn what it truly means to deny ourselves for the sake of others. And when we learn to deny ourselves for the sake of others, we learn to truly love as God loves us. How then can we begin sharing the gospel with others? We simply begin by reversing our focus. The needs of others must come first. Look for tangible ways to show your love for those around you. Listen to others. Don’t always do the talking. Take time to really listen. Get to know people. Buy someone a coffee, and spend time listening to what they have to say. Give of your time. Oh, I know, none of us have very much free time to give, but that is what makes it such a valuable gift. Give your time to someone. Sit with someone who is alone. Run errands for a shut in. Offer to babysit. Give of yourself by giving of your time. These little acts of love and kindness show another person that you care about them, and it shows love for others and not of self. Use these opportunities to show the love of Christ and to share Christ with others.
It is totally okay to love your animals. I don’t think God would have given us all of these wonderful creatures if He didn’t want us to love them. However, His Word tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) We must love our neighbors. Who are our neighbors? Our neighbors are every single person we come in contact with…the nice people and the rude people, the ones that smell good and the ones that smell bad, and even the bad ones. Yes, God says we have to love our neighbors, and there is no greater way to love someone than to share Christ with them. Continue to love those critters, Peeps, but don’t forget to love God first, and next, we have to love people!