Jesus is known to be one of the most influential leaders the world has ever seen, yet He took the time to lavishly love the lonely. He spent time with sinners, ate with tax collectors, and spoke with those who were overlooked by society. Jesus was often criticized by the religious leaders for attending parties, talking with beggars, and was known to be friends with immoral people.
Do you find yourself looking like Jesus or more like the Pharisees who questioned Jesus for hanging out with sinners?
Here are 5 practical steps to help you look for opportunities to lavishly love the lonely.
1. Start your day prepared. Zig Ziglar eloquently said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” As you start your day, ask God to direct your steps. Request Him to put you in contact with folks who need to experience His grace. Petition Him to give you eyes to see the opportunities He places before you and ask Him to give you the words that the people need to hear.
2. Get out of your bubble. Get moving. Maybe you go for a walk around your neighborhood with the intent on talking with your neighbors. Maybe you go to the coffee shop specifically to be a friend to someone in need. Maybe you go to the grocery store, but instead of rushing down the aisles, you are intentionally looking for someone who is lonely.
3. Fill a need. Jesus was so generous with people. He would stop to talk with people and then meet their physical, social, or spiritual needs. How can we lavishly love the lonely? Maybe with your neighbor you lavishly give your time. Instead of passing someone by to continue with your exercise, you stop and begin a relationship. Maybe when you are talking with the lonely person at the grocery store you surprise them with an offer to buy their baby diapers.
4. Point them to Jesus. If you start your day prepared, get out of your bubble, and meet a need, but fail to point that person to Jesus, then you have become their savior. Don’t lead people to worship you, rather share with them your faith in Jesus. This can be as simple as an invitation to join you at church or maybe even an authentic invitation to ongoing discussion. Direct the conversation to Jesus and go into the friendship with a desire to see this person in Heaven.
5. Follow up later. Don’t let this be a one and done conversation, rather look for follow up. Maybe you exchange contact information. Maybe you connect on social media or maybe you invite the person over for s’mores. If you want to lavishly love the lonely, look for opportunities to have an ongoing relationship with this person as you point them to Jesus.
The adventure of collaborating with God involves bestowing the greatest gift a person can receive — the gift of amazing grace — on undeserving (and often unsuspecting) people like you and me. – Bill Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith