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November 14, 2021
Larry Van Gundy

Having a love for the lost doesn’t come naturally to our flawed hearts...

It, like our salvation, is only by the grace of God. However, it IS possible to intentionally ask God to help us nurture that same love and compassion that He has extended to us through His Son Jesus.

When we moved from Morton to Bloomington early in 2014, we became immersed in the neighborhood, rather than coming and going from it. In the brokenness that we faced, I found I was growing in a new awareness of God’s amazing grace in my OWN life and His extravagant love, mercy, and kindness to us. I was struck by Matthew 22:34-40 as it related to evangelism and discipleship. The great commandment, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I was convicted. What kind of neighbor was I going to be in fulfilling God’s command and following God’s heart for the lost in my world? I prayed about this, because I wanted to be seen first and foremost as a “good neighbor.” I even tried to avoid telling my new neighbors my “occupation.” After all, people get a little weird when they find out you’re a pastor. God answered my prayer. He nurtured His love in my heart (and still continues to do so), and allowed us to build many relationships as friends without that dominating “pastor” stereotype. I hope the following insights will help you also nurture, encourage, and cultivate a love for and with the lost in your sphere of influence.

  • Preach the Gospel to yourself daily. As we do this regularly, we will be overcome by the scandalous grace God has for us and what it means to be one of His children.
  • Pray daily, asking God to give you a heart for the lost (Romans 10:1).
  • Prepare daily for the opportunities God will give you to show His love for the lost in both deeds and words. See people as those made in the image of God. See them as interesting, with a story to share. Make allowances for God to break into your day so that you can be a blessing to those whose paths you cross regularly.
  • Prioritize, every day, that you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit everywhere you go.
  • Plan to live this out, alongside others, for encouragement, support, and the beauty of having different gifts, interests, and skills, etc. After all, this is God’s design.
  • Ponder these passages in God’s Word; ask the Spirit of God to do His holy work in your heart and life (Matt. 9:35-38; Luke 6:31-36; 10:25-37; 15:1-2; 19:10; Romans 5:6, 8, 10; 12:9-21; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; Col. 4:2-6; 1 Tim. 2:1; Titus 3:4-8; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 John 3:16-17; 4: 8-9, 19; Jude 1:20-23).