“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.”
-Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:3-5
How Jesus Loved People
If you were sitting in the crowd during Jesus’ sermon, and it happened to be a time in your life when you were poor in spirit, or mourning, or feeling particularly meek, these words of Jesus would have resonated powerfully. He offered words of comfort and encouragement to those who were (and are) emotionally needy.
Love Like Jesus
You know that person in your life? That guy or girl that makes you think, “Oh, here she comes again,” or, “Here he comes again. It’s that needy guy. Man, he has the personality of a tree stump,” you say to yourself.
Or, “Come on already, she’s been mourning her breakup for over a month now.”
Or maybe you just think, “He’s so meek and awkward, I never know what to say around him.”
And you have this semi-panicky reaction. Your brain starts to churn a little bit, “Think, think: what excuse can I use… Gotta go because… my dog needs to go to the doggy spa. Hmmm, if I only had a dog.”
(Kathy says I’m the type of guy who, when the single lady’s cat dies, thinks to himself, “What’s the big deal, it’s just a cat.” What can I say? God is still working on me.)
Of course there’s a certain logic to this reaction, at least from a human perspective. Loving needy people can be a little tricky. Their focus on their needs can cause them to become a kind of black hole in your time bank account. So the usual response is to avoid them.
But Jesus didn’t respond that way.
One of the ways Jesus loved people was to comfort the needy. In the sermon on the mount we see He has comforting words for those who are poor in spirit, and for those who mourn, and for those who are meek.
Think back to a time when your emotional bank account was at a deficit. The time when you had that falling sensation because your world was falling apart. When you felt the knot in your stomach and your heart in your throat. What did you want to hear during those times?
During times like these a word of comfort can feel like a lifeline. A word of comfort or encouragement might be more powerful than Prozac (or Valium, or Zoloft). Needy people can be energized by comforting and encouraging words. Mark Twain famously said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” And he wasn’t even needy.
So how can you love like Jesus?
I think some of the very best opportunities to reach people for God’s kingdom are lost because of our tendency to run from those who are emotionally bankrupt. So next time that needy person approaches, instead of running, listen to what they have to say. Maybe pray for them. Then simply offer words of comfort and encouragement.
You can too.
[Image via: hang_in_there – Creative Commons]