Wendy Mann believes every Christian has the capacity to see people’s lives transformed as they demonstrate God’s love to those around them, but love must be our motivating source, as she explains to Claire Musters ...
I remember one of the first times I was speaking at a church and had a specific word of knowledge for a knee injury. I can’t even remember if the man was healed or not; I was caught up in the excitement of realising I had heard God accurately.
God convicted me of focusing on myself, rather than loving the person he had brought to me. That was the start of a journey of growing in love for people. God has been teaching me that love is the best motivation for seeing sustained supernatural breakthrough. Here are some of the things I am learning:
1 Check your motives
It is very easy to fall into the trap of praying for the sick, or speaking to people about Jesus just because we ‘ought to’ rather than out of compassion. We can even seek words of knowledge because we get a sense of validation when we get things right. If you pursue such things out of a sense of guilt, people will undoubtedly become projects. Doing the things God calls us to with any of these motivations can lead to burnout, hardness of heart and a distance from God. But being motivated by love changes everything.
2 Take the pressure off
We have all been made in God’s image, and he loves each one of us. Our role, when we reach out to someone else, is not to make something ‘happen’ but simply to love them with God’s love. That love may take the form of offering to buy a coffee, helping someone home with their shopping or prophesying over them. But the onus isn’t on you to somehow prove the existence of God – it is simply to share his love. The rest is up to him. That is so liberating!
3 Jesus was moved by compassion
When we look at Jesus’ example, we see that he was moved out of an overflow of love and compassion. That’s why he healed the sick, and fed the hungry even when he was tired and his disciples just wanted to send the crowds away. Asking God for more compassion, to see those around us as he sees them, helps to mobilise us into action – and also stifles the fear we often feel.
4 The culture of comfort is a killer
I travel a lot, both around the country and further afield, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that the Western Church seems to prioritise comfort over pursuing the kingdom of God. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable, so we avoid it at all costs. Instead of engaging with the suffering that can so easily be found on our doorsteps, which we often find too disturbing, we choose to keep safe inside our four walls.
We subconsciously choose to seek comfort through owning a nice house, clothes and cars or through spending time surfing the internet – how we feel comfortable will be different for everyone, but the end result is the same. By choosing a quick-fix comfort our hearts become disconnected from God and we begin to lose the ability to feel compassion. Any reaching out we do lacks genuine feeling.
I do understand that our media-savvy world can bombard us with the huge suffering that is taking place right now both within our own country and also right around the world. We can feel overwhelmed by the size of the problems and end up responding by burying our heads in the sand rather than engaging with anything at all because we simply don’t know what to do. But God does not ask us to solve all of the world’s suffering; he calls us to be his hands and feet where we are. Just by keeping our eyes and hearts open to what he might want to do through us can open up some extraordinary opportunities.
I used to take some of our church’s Training for Supernatural Ministries’ students to pray in and around the grounds of our local hospital. We saw God open up many opportunities for us to reach out and speak and pray with people. We purposefully went with faith and God’s hope and joy, but it would have been easy, with all the suffering that surrounded us, to withdraw our hearts rather than connecting with people. Being up close to so much suffering can desensitise you, but I have to say that, by choosing to feel compassion, I have engaged much more with my own heart as well as God’s, and feel more alive as a result.
The truth is God never promised us that we would be comfortable – although he did promise to send us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Going to him for our comfort allows our hearts to stay soft and connected to him. Yes, compassion can be uncomfortable, but it is so much better than becoming numb!
5 Connecting with God
Love is such an important motivator, but we mustn’t wait until we feel it before reaching out to someone. We must learn to be obedient to God, and often our hearts connect as we respond to him. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t muster up love and compassion yourself – it’s a work of the Holy Spirit and also a journey. Here are some of the steps I have learned, and am still learning, that help me connect deeper with God and become more motivated by love:
• Receive God’s love for yourself
1 John 4:19 says that “we love because he first loved us”. When we offer compassion and love to someone else, it needs to be out of an overflow of the love that we have found from him for ourselves. Often there are past hurts to deal with, or lies to be broken, but taking the time to allow ourselves to fully understand God’s love for us is vital if we want to know how to reach others with his love.
• Allow God to use your own suffering
I have had a battle with sickness myself. Over the past seven years I have had two operations to remove cysts from my ovaries. Both times there was a risk that the cysts might be cancerous, and the second surgery resulted in me losing an ovary. I am still under a consultant with the possibility of further surgery in the future.
These times of suffering have been incredibly challenging on a number of different levels, and there has been much pain and disappointment for me to work through. And yet, I have been able to draw on God’s faithfulness to me through these dark times in order to strengthen others in their suffering. I don’t think you have to go through tough times to grow in compassion, but I do think increased compassion for others is one of the ways God brings good out of our own battles.
• Regularly ask God to connect you with his heart
I have learned to consistently ask God to connect my heart to his, just using a very simple, short prayer. I also thank him for answering my prayers and for allowing me the privilege of growing in love and compassion for those around me. Any time you remember, just simply ask God to increasingly connect your heart to his – and then see what he will do!
+ Claire Musters is a freelance writer based in Surrey