1 Peter 3:8-13 (NIV)

8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11 He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?   

John 13:35 (NIV)

35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   

DEVOTION -Avon White (Tennessee)

A few years ago, I served a seven-month jail sentence for driving drunk.  Within the first two weeks of my incarceration, I escaped two stabbing attempts and became the victim of extortion.  That was only the beginning.  Regularly, I witnessed the strong preying on the weak:  food taken by force, verbal intimidation used to cut in lines, blankets stolen on bone-chilling winter nights.  I hid in my ten-foot by eight-foot cell, wishing that the bullies would disappear into a bottomless pit.

Reading the Bible given to me by a sympathetic guard changed all that.  Certain passages – about loving my brother and treating others the way I would like to be treated – seemed to light up my space like neon lights.  For 12 hours a day, I read my Bible, prayed, and asked God to reveal how I came to stray so far.  During this journey, God transformed my heart, enabling me to love all the often-unlovable people in my life.  I was able to pray for my enemies.  I bought commissary food for those who antagonized me.

We are to love unconditionally everywhere our foot makes an imprint.  This great assignment God has entrusted to us as Christians may often feel like an anchor around our necks.  But when  we allow God to love others through us, we can be wonderfully transformed in the process.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When we love others unconditionally, we are blessed as much as they.

PRAYER: Dear God, help us love others as you love them.