Better a Neighbor Nearby

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I’m a mom of three. I enjoy watching my children participate in their activities.I frequent dance and vocal recitals, as well as music and worship nights. I do have a sense of pride and joy in my heart when I see them express their love for God through their gifts. When I watch Jaden Stanley lead worship, I feel the same way. When I see a friend’s kid dance and lead across the stage with joy in her heart—and I know her heart—I feel the same way. Yet I know so many mothers who do not have the same kind of love for anyone else’s kids or grandkids that they have for their own. I don’t understand it.

I think that having the same love for other people that you have for your own natural-born children is the spirit of adoption. How can you not celebrate every life? God does. I think sometimes we elevate the bloodline family so much that we miss the bloodline of Jesus’ family. We don’t step into the roles we need to because there might be a missing link. We don’t step into the roles where we truly love each other.

John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (NIV). The world will know we belong to Christ by the way we love each other in the body of Christ—not by the way we love our own family, strangers, or lost people. It’s not by the way we serve the homeless. They will know us by the way we take care of the body of Christ.

My kids have been without a grandma for many years. One year, a friend’s mom stepped in and blessed them with the voice of a grandma in their life. She met once a week with a little group of girls just to pour the Word into them. It was so precious. I loved her so much for doing that. I have also had an aunt step in who never forgets a birthday. She always remembers them. They feel dearly loved by her. Sometimes I have so many friends who could step in, and I ask the Lord why someone hasn’t. Why hasn’t someone nearby stepped in?

“Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away,” says Proverbs 27:10 (NIV). I believe our family is supposed to be nearby, but it’s the family of God that fills those shoes while our family is away. When our family is together, we can take on the roles we were naturally born into. When we are far apart, it seems we should fill those places with spiritual roles. I should be a spiritual mother to somebody when his or her natural mother is not present. Someone should be a spiritual grandmother to my children because their natural grandmother is not present.

I think life is too busy. We’re too busy. It’s too easy to travel and fill those roles on a periodic basis rather than filling them where you are. I went through a season where I really grieved that loss for my family. It has made me realize that if something ever happened to me, I would pray to God that someone would fill that spiritual role of mother in my kids’ lives.

I wonder today if you have in your heart that love—that spirit of adoption—you need to give away to someone. Do you need to step into a spiritual family role and be a love bug to someone in your life?

When I was a little girl, I had a home with a mom and a stepdad, but I went to church all by myself for years. I went alone from the time I was ten until I was seventeen. I wonder why no one ever really adopted me and had the spirit of adoption to bring me into her family. Why didn’t anyone ever pick me up and take me to dinner or get me off of the church bus and start inviting me over for lunch? Why didn’t anyone start investing in me and teaching me the Word of God? The only conclusion I can draw is that the people there didn’t have the love in their hearts to give away.

That is why we don’t step into a role where we may be needed. We don’t have the love in our hearts, or we don’t have the time. The enemy will do anything to keep us too busy to demonstrate the love Christ put in us and show the world, “Hey, look how the people in the family of God take care of one another. Isn’t it awesome how this family cares for these children?”

As long as the enemy can keep us busy—too busy to love—the love of God will not be on display. It’s easy to love your own family, but it’s hard to find time to love others. I encourage you to look around in your life and see how you can truly love others today.

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