I walked with determination down the hallway. Maybe this time will be different, I thought, knocking on the classroom door.
At the beginning of the year, I’d volunteered to mentor a second grader through a program helping youth with behavioral concerns. Once a week, I arrived at the school during my lunch break to spend time with “Justin” (not his real name) and show him some undivided, positive attention. I embraced this opportunity as a chance to connect with a child needing love.
Justin, however, did not embrace this opportunity. Each time I entered his class, he rolled his eyes and slumped to the little room where we sat to play games. For nine months, I met with Justin weekly, and his walls never came down. I understood he needed unconditional love; I just believed he didn’t want it from me.
When we experience Jesus’s unconditional love for us, we naturally want to share it with others. God’s never-ending, always-pursuing, never-giving-up love was put on full display at Jesus’s death and resurrection. When we wanted nothing to do with God, He made the way for us to be in relationship with Him by giving up His own life for ours (Romans 5:10). His love changes us and transforms us so that we can love God and others. Yet, as followers of Jesus seeking to obey His command to love our neighbors as ourselves, sometimes we wonder, “Does this matter? Does all my work count for anything?”
Not only does Jesus invite us to step out in faith and trust Him with the results, He also gives us encouragement when our faith feels weak. Jesus invites us to bring our weariness and burdens to Him, our great burden-bearer (Psalm 68:19). He understands we’ll face discouragement in doing good work (whether it’s mentoring a struggling eight-year-old or working our hardest at school), and He assures us that He is with us and He is at work even when we don’t see it. We may not see the outcomes we expected to, but we can trust God with our obedience. After all, He promises us that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). • Allison Wilson Lee
• Have you ever felt worn out while trying to love your neighbor? Jesus understands, and He is with you. Remember, the results of your work aren’t up to you. They are not on your shoulders. Jesus is the One who brings about change in people’s hearts. He is at work in you, and He is at work through you. Consider taking a moment now to pray for a neighbor you’re trying to love.
• Some days, we’re like the author of this story—giving love and help. Other days, we’re like Justin—the one receiving the love and help. We’re all in need of love, and we’re all in need of help, even when we don’t want it. So, God gave us community in His family, the church. Through the church, we can give and receive God’s love, uplifting each other and being uplifted. What are some ways you’ve seen this play out in your life? If nothing comes to mind, you can ask God to help you notice ways He is inviting you to give and receive love and help as you live life alongside fellow Christians.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)