“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)

On this first day of the season of Lent, I like to select a theme to guide my study and prayers for the weeks until Easter, the day of Resurrection! This year I am reminded of a Bible Study we did in our small group on our Spiritual Gifts. In this study, the authors divided our gifts into two main categories, gifts of Speaking and gifts of Serving. Of course, both are intertwined in bringing glory unto God, but I have been struck by the gifts of Serving. In recent messages on humility, our pastor has stressed that the true gifts of Service include placing the needs and concerns of others above our own. During Lent, I have pledged to myself to be more aware of others and less into my own issues and wants. What will that look like?

Our “corporate” daughter always suggests we have a “plan” when facing challenges in our lives. I think my plan must be built around a question posed by our pastor, “…are we willing to identify with John the Baptist who said, ‘[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease?’“ How can I increase my Jesus in my life?

When a friend is hurting, more of Jesus will mean laying down my life for her in prayer, in listening, in hugging, in accepting her nonjudgmentally right where she is, in thinking how I can comfort her today as I plan my activities.

When a friend is excited about a new venture or success, more of Jesus will mean feeling her joy, encouraging her future with absolutely no comparison to something great I have done, but that it be all about HER and nothing about ME.

When folks hear me speak, will they hear a humble sinner who is nothing without her God and Jesus? Will they hear an inflated spirit, full of myself or one that is bursting with the joy of the love of Jesus? Whose concerns will folks hear first, mine or my honest interest in each one as a child of our God?

So, I look back and I remember those humble Christians I know and have known who always have affirmed my beliefs and successes first, have asked about my life first thing when we meet, have prayed, guided and strengthened me in the scriptures.

The way that they are much more of Jesus than of themselves inspires me in my plan to serve others during Lent. What is your plan? I’d love to know so I can pray for you as I hope you will pray for me!

God Bless you,

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