There is a story that John the apostle, who lived to be nearly one hundred years old, had some people carry him into the church at Ephesus every week when he could no longer walk.
As they brought him in, he would always say the same thing in a shaky voice, “Brethren, love one another.”
Eventually someone said, “John, don’t you have something else to say?”
He looked surprised and said, “Is there anything else to say?”
Unfailing love should prompt you to do radical life-changing things. Unfailing love perseveres, even in the most difficult times and circumstances when you are depleted and discouraged. Unfailing love reaches beyond loving those who are easy to love. Unfailing love gives you the power to love a daughter who has rejected you or a son in rebellion. Unfailing love enables you to authentically love people who don’t deserve love or who are on opposite sides of an issue from you. This response of yours with unfailing love pleases God and blesses others.
John the Apostle wrote:
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:16 – 18).
Acts of unfailing love must characterize you as a follower of Jesus. There are many different ways to express God’s love. Each one of us will do it differently, but you need to find your way of showing his unfailing love to others on a regular basis. It must be a part of your life if you are to fulfill Christ’s desire for you to truly be his follower.
You can regularly give a gift to help someone who is poor. You can provide food to an orphan. You can help an elderly neighbor. You can volunteer to ring the bell for a day for the Salvation Army at Christmas. You can feed the homeless at a shelter on Thanksgiving. You can encourage a recently bereaved person by taking them a meal. You can have a lonely neighbor over to your house for conversation and dinner. You can make a practice of putting your hand on someone’s shoulder and praying for them. If you are in high school or college, you can befriend an ostracized or shy student and show them the genuine, unfailing love of Jesus.
One Christmas a few years ago, one thousand specially invited guests were seated on coaches transporting them to a secret location. They arrived at a splendidly decorated ballroom, found their seats and sat down to a sumptuous meal prepared by chefs from Sydney, Australia’s Regent hotels. They were given a beautiful salad of shrimp and mangos, succulent roast turkey with stuffing, ham and vegetables, and to top it off, traditional Christmas pudding with a gourmet custard. Guests were also treated to many complimentary gifts and an evening of entertainment.
Who were these one thousand specially invited guests?
They were homeless people from the streets of Sydney. They had been invited by Jeff Gambin. Every night Gambin and his team of volunteers prepare and distribute meals to Sydney’s homeless. They also provide them with housing, employment, rehabilitation and counseling. In the many years they’ve been doing this, Jeff Gambin and his wife have spent millions of dollars of their own money, and plan to continue until it runs out. At Christmas, they treat the homeless to a celebration normally reserved for the rich and the famous.
Gambin knows he will exhaust all his resources and receive nothing material in return.
Yet he says, “It is easily the most gratifying thing I have ever done in my life.” Gambin demonstrates his unfailing, genuine love for people who have not and cannot do anything to deserve it.
What a wonderful image of the banquet feast described by Jesus, a banquet to which the marginalized and the poor are invited, a banquet filled with love, care, kindness and undeserved favor (Luke 14).
This is what you are called to do in large and small ways throughout your life. It is demonstrating Christ’s amazing love in practical ways day after day. Build into your life simple, practical ways of showing Jesus’ abounding, unfailing love, and you will change lives now and for all eternity. In the process, your life will be changed as well.
*This passage was taken from Kevin Dyer’s most recent book, Unwavering Faith, Unshakable Hope, Unfailing Love. It has been edited for this blog post.