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Love in Action:
Relationships as an Expression of Faith

Jerry L. Harber, D. Min.
Director, The Center for Business Solutions

As people of faith, we are continually looking for ways to live our faith with
others. We know we can volunteer for soup kitchens, clothes closets, and Habitat houses. But these are occasional. What about day-to-day? We experience many inter and intra-personal encounters every day and these moments of interaction offer the most readily available place to live our faith.

These moments, whether fleeting exchanges with strangers or enduring ones with our families and friends, are opportunities to either bless or curse. That assertion may sound pretty strong, but it’s true. And since it’s true, we need to be sure we use these experiences to bless.

As a simple, but powerful guideline, let’s take the Golden Rule—“do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” To unleash the power of this Rule, stop a moment and ask yourself how you want to be treated. Chances are you want to be treated with respect, to have your dignity and sense of self worth valued and affirmed. You want to be acknowledged for the good you do and for the help you’ve been. You want to be loved, at least in the sense that your needs are taken seriously.

If you want these things, then those around us likely want them as well. It’s
true for the clerk at the grocery store, your family members, or the stranger in the elevator. To make sure your interactions with them bless instead of curse, you can simply tap into the list above.

Think about how your encounters with others can convey respect, affirm dignity and self worth, acknowledge goodness, and model love. Take the simplest example: You’re on the elevator and a stranger gets on. You can smile. You can ask, “What floor?” and press the button for them. If you feel comfortable, you could say, “nice jacket” or dress or bag.

The bad news about relationships is this: We are less likely to do these simple
things at home than anywhere. The good news is we can consciously change that. You can improve someone else’s feeling about themselves and strengthen your relationship at the same time.

Look, you like to be thanked for doing something good or nice, so thank your spouse for a great dinner or for how good the yard looks. Tell your kids how much you appreciate them. (This one can be really hard!) Volunteer the comment, “You really look nice tonight.” Don’t make someone ask. Practice catching people doing right things, good things and comment favorably on it. Use this as a replacement for the well-honed ability to spot the disappointments and goofs.

How about this: You like to have someone’s undivided attention; it makes you feel valued and important. Next time you’re watching TV or reading and a family member begins to talk to you, look away from the TV or reading and look right at them. If the conversation seems really important, mute or turn off the TV; close the book. Why? No TV program or book is as important as that person at that moment! That’s love in action—self-sacrificial love, the greatest kind.

These things really seem simple, don’t they? They are simple but they’re not
easy. They’re hard to do because they are not very natural for us. What’s
natural is to think only of ourselves, but our Golden Rule tells us to only start
there. Imagine what the world would be like if we all practiced this! Better
yet, don’t imagine. Start where you are, waiting for no one else to change.
You’ll experience the joy of faith in action and the deepening of your

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