I love the tender heart of the shepherd that Jesus describes in Luke 15. When one of his 100 sheep was missing, he left the 99 and went looking for the one that was lost (verses 3-6). God cares for you and me this way, and He wants us to care for others this way too. Here are some tips for getting started.
Develop a “generous eye”—Solomon said, “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). I like to think of a generous eye as being like the eyes of God, which “run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9). When I go into public places, I intentionally look for wounded sheep—and, believe me, they are there.
I’ve found women in the ladies’ room crying, sitting on the church patio weeping, standing behind our prayer room door sobbing. One night during church I sat beside a woman who cried for one-and-a-half hours! I could hardly wait for my pastor to finish praying so I could ask her, “Can I do anything to help you? Can I pray with you? Can I get you something? Would you like to talk?” People all around us need a tender word—or more.
Be direct—Whenever you see a person in need, be direct. Walk straight up to the wounded sheep and see what she needs and what you can do. Don’t hope someone else comes along. Don’t run looking for the pastor. God has allowed you to find this person in need. Now allow your heart to overflow with care.
Be bold—Be bold and give to the people God places in your path. If, however, you find yourself avoiding a certain person, ask God to show you why. Sin in our hearts—hearts meant to overflow with care for others—keeps us from being confident in our relationships. So find out what is going on—or not going on—in your heart that’s hindering your ministry. Then go a step further and decide what you will say the next time you see that person. Actively search for him or her and give the warm, friendly greeting you planned. With a heart clean before God, you should have nothing to hide, nothing to withhold. Learn to reach out to the people you meet up with every day.
I am encouraged each time I remember the first Bible lesson I ever taught. The pastor’s wife hesitated and then made her way up the aisle afterwards. She said, “I’ve been asking the Lord if I should say anything to you because I don’t want this to go to your head — but you are a good teacher!” Believe me, I will rarely suffer from overconfidence! My tendency is toward the other end of the scale, toward inadequacy, inferiority, and inability. But this esteemed woman chose to be direct and not withhold the good—those words of encouragement—when it was in the power of her hand (and heart) to give it.
Let’s make the same choice to not withhold the good from those who cross our paths. And, what a wonderful season to be on the lookout for those who are in need this holiday season – whether it be financial, physical or emotional. We never know how God will use our generous eye toward forwarding His kingdom through those to whom we generously give words of encouragement and prayer.
Question: Has anyone ever generously given words of encouragement or prayer to you that impacted you in a significant way? Tell us about it.
For more encouragement read, A Woman who Reflects the Heart of Jesus.
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