I looked around at the many different faces surrounding me, and I whispered a quiet prayer of thanks. “Lord, I love each one of them so much. Thank you for making them a part of my life.”
The many faces belonged to my relatives—strong, loving, wise, gentle, witty, and compassionate souls I had known for most of my life. We all had gathered at my sister’s lake house for a weekend of fun and fellowship. My mom, sisters, sisters-in-law, aunt, and cousins were in attendance, and we had already laughed and shared our hearts a great deal.
Family. Whether it’s the one we grew up in or the church members we love, family remains a great gift from God. My weekend at the lake in Ohio reminded me that family is a place where we can:
Proverbs 27:17, NASB, says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” In other words, we are shaped by the people around us. We learn from and respond to both the good and bad qualities of other people. We aspire to be the like the good people we know, and hopefully, we desire to be different from the difficult ones.
The Spirit of God aims to develop the qualities of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” in us (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB). Often, He allows us to experience those qualities in others so we will be motivated to become like them. My mother is one of the most kind, compassionate, and loving people I know. I’ve always said I want to be like her when I grow up! My sister Brenda and I joked once that it would be impossible to be as great as Mom, but it’s a good goal to set for ourselves.
Here’s something I have learned: If I want to be a kinder person, I need to hang around someone who is kind. If I want to be wiser, I need to spend time with someone who is wise. I pray a lot to know the Lord better and love Him more. He gave me my friend Phyllis for a season (before she went home to be with Him) because she knew and loved Him with her whole heart.
I have prayed to be more hospitable, and the Lord has allowed me to spend time with my sister Jennifer, who always knows how to make people feel welcome and comfortable. Once when I stayed at her house, she presented me with two bed pillows and asked if I preferred the flat or fluffy one! She created several gluten-free foods for me when I visited her recently because I am gluten-intolerant. How kind and thoughtful. I want to be like her too when I grow up!
I’ve learned about patience and gentleness from my sister Renee, courage and facing life with a sense of humor from my sister Danielle, and hard work and perseverance from my sister Brenda. (This is not an all-inclusive list.)
Just like our family of origin, God’s family is called to “encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NASB. That’s what we are supposed to do for one another. That’s why we are told to keep spending time with each other (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can “consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, AMP).
We also are changed when other Christians share God’s Word with us. We are transformed as our minds become renewed and renovated with the truth (Romans 12:2). We come to know the truth of God’s Word, and the truth sets us free (John 8:32).
Be the Change
Just as we are changed by God’s people around us, we can allow the Lord to use us to impact others for His kingdom. My grandma told me a story once about her son, my Uncle Pat. She said he was hanging out with “a young hooligan” in town during high school. One of her friends took her aside and asked her if she was worried that her son would start becoming like the young man who was always getting in trouble.
My grandma told me she replied to the friend, “I’m not worried one bit. My son is not going to be changed by him. He is going to be changed by my son.” My grandma looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, “That’s exactly what happened!”
Jesus says He wants us to be good influencers in this world. He tells us we are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Salt is full of flavor and acts as a preservative, stopping the spread of decay. Light dispels the darkness and points the way out of it. If we listen to and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, He can use us to point others to Jesus, who says, “’I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6, NASB). As we allow the Holy Spirit to develop His fruit in our lives, Jesus can be seen more clearly in us, and hopefully, more people will be drawn to Him.
Since we know and love the God of the Word, we can dedicate ourselves to learning and applying the Word of our God. Over time, we can become living epistles, known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). As my pastor once said, “Your life might be the only Bible someone ever reads.” Of course, the Holy Spirit can also lead us to speak God’s Word in love to others, and that can impact their lives as well (Ephesians 4:15). God’s Word is alive, powerful, life-changing, and full of the Spirit (Hebrews 4:12; John 6:63). When we fill our hearts and minds with it, then God’s Word can flow out of us to be the change in a world that needs it.
Look for Jesus
All the wonderful qualities we experience in others are a reflection of the beautiful and profound qualities found in Jesus. They give us a glimpse of Him. The word Christian means “little Christ”. The Bible says here’s the mystery: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, NASB).
The word glory in the New Testament means to manifest, give an estimation of; hence [resulting in] praise, honor, glory. In other words, the Lord wants Jesus to be seen in us so others can come to know Him too. He wants us to look for His Son in others too so we can experience more of Him every day, so we can be encouraged and continue to grow.
It’s an ongoing process. Second Corinthians 3:18 (HCSB) says it this way, “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
That’s why the Lord tells us He can use everything in our lives to make us more like His Son Jesus (Romans 8:28-29), especially the people around us. God gives us one another for this reason. May we continue to bless and be blessed by the presence of Jesus in our lives.
Question: How have you experienced Jesus through the lives of others? Comment at the link below.
Proverbs 27:17; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; Romans 12:2; John 8:32; Matthew 5:13-16; John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3; Ephesians 4:15; Hebrews 4:12; John 6:63; Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:28-29