“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 (NIV)
I was reserved as a child. When my parents started attending a church, I didn’t want to be separated from them, so I refused to go with the other elementary school kids. I enjoyed my comfort zone, just a few feet away from my parents. As an only child, I was accustomed to a predictable life, free from siblings. I was afraid of being in unfamiliar territory.
What if I couldn’t find anyone to sit next to me in kid’s church?
What if I had a question, but I didn’t know who to ask?
After many months of comfortably sitting next to my parents in the main service, my mother decided to give me a little pep talk.
“You are going to try the children’s program soon,” she said. “When you go into the room, look for the other kids who are by themselves. Show interest and ask questions about what they like. If you care for others, you won’t be lonely yourself.”
That conversation with my mom helped me reframe my young fears. At first it was hard to overcome my nervousness to talk to other children I didn’t know. But over time, I learned to say hi to any girls who were sitting alone. My fear of being separated from my parents turned into an interest in others (with a little prodding from my mom). I became more comfortable — and now almost 40 years later, I still follow my mom’s advice when I’m in a room filled with people I don’t know.
Look for the lonely.
For many of us, it’s easy to walk into a crowded room and either stick with the people we know or hide in a corner with a phone. Yet in today’s key verse, we’re instructed to consider others, even if it costs us something. When you’re shy, it’s difficult to make that first move toward a stranger. But as God’s children, we are called to reach out to others, which is an act of service to the Lord.
This idea of reaching out to others isn’t just for children’s church, work parties or networking events. It’s the way a Christian ought to behave: looking outwardly, looking for the lonely, looking for ways to bless others.
In this context of being affectionate to each other in brotherly love, the Apostle Paul writes we are to be diligent and fervent (Romans 12:11). Not lagging in diligence means not being lazy when serving the Lord. To be fervent in spirit means to glow with enthusiasm for God. Romans 12:13 says we are to contribute to the needs of the saints and to be given to hospitality. Our hearts, homes and pocketbooks should be open, generously and joyfully creating opportunities to reach out to those in need.
In our brief key verse, the phrase “one another” is mentioned twice, denoting just how important loving others is to God. We are to be devoted to one another and to honor one another. Verse 16 continues this theme; we are to live in harmony with one another.
Herein lies the cure for loneliness and shyness.
Be “one another” minded toward your brothers and sisters in Christ. Look for the lonely. When you look outwardly to serve others, putting the spotlight on your family, friends, neighbors, pastors or co-workers, you won’t be lonely very often. Shyness melts away when God’s people make a heart-to-heart connection.
Although I’m an only child, I do have many brothers and sisters … in Christ. You are not alone, my friend. You are part of God’s beautiful, loving family.
Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me first, which gives me the ability to love others. Help me notice those around me who need a special touch from You. Use me to befriend the friendless. May I overcome any inhibitions to become the caring person You want me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 13:1, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” (NIV)
1 Peter 4:9, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (NIV)
Everyone has felt lonely before — maybe you’re feeling lonely now. So where do you go when there’s no one to turn to? Click here to get your copy of If You’re Lonely, Read This: A 25-Day Guide to Finding His Presence; yours FREE with a gift of any amount!
Need more help connecting to others? Visit Arlene Pellicane’s blog today, for 10 conversational questions to improve your “one another” skills.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you been feeling shy and/or lonely recently? Think of someone who needs your prayers today, and reach out to that person with a call, email, text, note or visit.
© 2017 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.