"It's never wrong to care about somebody." (Linda Jones, played by Debra Winger, in the movie Radio)
"... as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people ..." (Galatians 6:10 TNIV)
Today's devotional will cost you about seven dollars and two hours of your time. But do this — drop everything and go see the movie Radio. Take your older children. Bring a friend along. Invite your neighbor. There is gospel in this story!
I won't ruin this movie for you. I'll resist the temptation to use some scenes from it here as illustrations. Instead, consider this a bit of a reader's guide for viewing this movie or as a discussion guide for you to share with your friends following your viewing of it. But in it all, see what good can come from loving others when it apparently costs us dearly to do so.
Key Lesson One:
We've all had the experience of finding great blessing in the midst of what would have appeared, at first, to be a great curse to us. In Jesus Christ, our life is about finding him in everything that life brings us — especially in those things that we would not have chosen at first to be a part of our life. So we have to ask ourselves some hard questions:
In what ways am I seeking to discover what life is really about through the hard things in my life? How am I seeking to see and understand God better in the matters and people my life encounters that are difficult and uncomfortable to me?
Suggested Bible Readings: Luke 9:23-25 and Hebrews 12:7-11.
Key Lesson Two:
We often decide, consciously or unconsciously, whether or not we will get involved in the lives of others on the basis of what we will receive in return for our assistance. We ask: "What's in this for me?" And if we find ourselves asking that question, we should immediately ask ourselves some other questions:
Could it be that the height of mature living — living as God would have us live — is to reach the point where that question no longer has such priority and we deliberately choose instead to live toward others solely on the basis of how our relationship with them will bless them in some way? Could it be the real joy and contentment I'm searching for in my life can be found by my seeking less of "getting what I want” and spending more of my life helping others "get what they need?”
Suggested Bible Readings: Philippians 2:17.
Key Lesson Three:
Helping others isn't always easy. We all know from experience that doing so is almost always difficult. This is so often the case that much of life boils down to this single question: "How much am I willing to suffer in order to help someone — anyone — else?" However, because we don't know what the future holds and cannot measure the exact price of our daring to help someone, we use that as an excuse not to get involved at all.
Perhaps we should recall that part of the gospel message is that God knew the total price of helping us find release from our sins before he sent his Son to die for us — and he sent him anyway to die in our place in the cruelest of ways. As disciples of Jesus, our task is for us to emulate God in every way possible way. That requires faith on our part in areas that are matters of knowledge to God. And faith, if anything, asks questions, questions such as:
Is my life actually driven by my own knowledge or more by my trust in God? Am I living my life unnecessarily limited by my knowledge of what others may think or say about me or is it inevitably led by my faith in what God has said and what he thinks of me?
Suggested Bible Readings: 2 Corinthians 5:7.
We should not be surprised if our extension of help to someone is met with some sort of gratitude. Gratitude can take many forms, not the least of which is imitation of the one who has helped us. As we become involved in the lives of others, the call for us to live holy lives becomes all the greater for those we have helped may look to us as examples in others aspects of life. And that brings up some important questions:
As I tell myself I want to live a life in such a way that it is a blessing to others, do I clearly see how that is connected to my need to live a life pleasing to God? Do I truly understand how helping and holiness are intimately connected? Am I trying to hide from growing in holiness by isolating myself from involvement with others?
Suggested Bible Readings: Hebrews 12:12-14 and Hebrews 13:1-6.
Key Lesson Five:
When we help others, we are often tempted to help only those who have been good to us, or at least, to those we think will do us no harm. However, that is not how God loved us in Jesus Christ. He loved us and helped us in Christ even when we did him much harm. The gospel is about forgiveness and Jesus tells us our forgiveness from God will be in proportion to our forgiveness of others. That's a strong word for us to hear so it should move us to ask ourselves some strong questions:
In what ways do I truly forgive others? How much am I willing to allow my forgiveness of others to cost me? Am I truly forgiving others if what I call my "forgiveness" costs me little or nothing?
Suggested Bible Readings: Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 6:14-15; and Romans 5:6-8.
Go see Radio and see much of the message of Jesus Christ in it all. And may others see Christ in you, more and more each day.
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39 TNIV)