One thing my mother used to always tell me is something her grandmother would often say to her:
“Start off like you want to end up.”
In the most practical sense, that little phrase can be applied to our life in so many ways.
You want to end up 10 pounds lighter? Then start off with a solid health and wellness weight loss program; following it until the goal is reached.
You want to end up out of debt? Then start off making right and good financial choices in how you will budget your money until all debt is paid.
You want your new classroom of students to take you seriously? Then start off the new year being consistent in your expectations.
You want to enjoy the weekend with all the laundry done? Then start off the week getting all laundry taken care of.
On the negative –
You want chaos, disorder and clutter in your home all week? Then start off the week with chaos, disorder, and clutter in your home.
You want little productivity in your days? Then start off each day without prayer, without a plan and without preparation.
But how can this one phrase be applied in our relationships?
If you want kind and caring relationships, start off every prayer, every text, every conversation, and every “thought” filtered through the kind and caring Spirit of God. “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” Luke 6:31.
If you want to be in respectful relationships, then start off showing respect. “Show proper respect to everyone,” 1 Peter 2:17.
If you want to be in encouraging relationships, then start off being the encourager. “So speak encouraging words to one another,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
If you want God-honoring relationships, then start off honoring God with yours and His. “Honor God,” Psalm 99:5.
If you want to be in loving relationships, then start off choosing Love. “Love others,” James 2:8.
Today’s blog is to help us find and start off in “the better way” of living, and that better way is the last word of the last sentence in red.
And the truth of it is this – 100% of us want to “end up” at a wonderful place! With an exciting end! Having lived life to the fullest that Jesus Christ made possible for each one of us. 100% of us want to “end up” right where HE has always prepared for us to be and that is enjoying a personal relationship with God our Father, through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, now and for all eternity! 100% of us want to “end up” having known Christ and made Him known and we want to do what we were created as His workmanship to do.
None of that is possible without Love. What is Love? 1 John 4:8 tells us. “… God is love.”
The only way we can live “the better way” is with God. You see, there is more to 1 John 4:8. The verse actually begins with, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
But what does Love look like? What is the fruit, or rather the outward expressions, a person will demonstrate when they know God? When they know Love?
I like to explain this comparing it to something I miss doing – Gardening.
In TN, I had so much fun gardening across the way on a strip of land a man named Farmer Danny gave me to “start off” learning how to garden. I wanted to “end up” with a bounty of harvest – I wanted potatoes, lettuce, radishes, corn, and plenty of tomatoes. So, after breaking up the soil, treating it with the nutrients it needed, he showed me how to plant certain seeds. Some seeds needed to be buried beneath the soil deeper than others in order to break open and begin to root, while some only needed a small thin layer of dirt across the top. Some seeds had to be planted on a mound of dirt, while others could be planted with the level soil. Some seeds needed to be planted 2 feet apart, while some only 4-6 inches.
When I asked him, “Why do certain crops need to start off with certain plantings?” He said to me, “You have to keep the end in mind. When the corn grows to full stalk, it would have benefited from the strength of the dirt mound while the seedling grew. When you harvest lettuce, you either planted the seeds close together so you can have a continuous supply of leaves, or if you wanted to end up harvesting the full head, then you would have spaced the seeds 12-16 inches apart.” Farmer Danny really taught me that when it comes to gardening, you simply must have the end in mind…you must start off like you want to end up.
So, how does this apply to Love? Well, if we want to end up in relationships that harvest all the characteristics of God – Who is Love – then it all starts off with seeds and soil. It all starts with “what seeds are we planting into the soil of our heart?”
Let’s hear all about this straight from Jesus. He said in Luke 8:4-9,11-16:
One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He replied:
The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
So, what are these seeds that need to fall into a good heart in order for us to live “The Better Way?”
We find these seeds in 1 Corinthians 13.
Seed of patience – Love never gives up.
Seed of kindness – Love cares more for others than for self.
Seed of contentment – Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Seed of humility – Love doesn’t strut,
Seed of meekness – Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Seed of kindness – Doesn’t force itself on others,
Seed of sacrifice – Isn’t always “me first,”
Seed of self-control – Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Seed of forgiveness – Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Seed of truth – Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Seed of worship – Takes pleasure in the flowering of Truth,
Seed of perseverance – Puts up with anything,
Seed of trust – Trusts God always,
Seed of encouragement – Always looks for the best,
Seed of hope – Never looks back,
Seed of faithfulness – But keeps going to the end.
The Word of God, in the hands of our Gardener, God, will create a salvation-garden of our life when we choose to plant His seeds of Love into the good soil of a surrendered and pure heart.
To really encourage “the better way” – to really inspire us all to start off like we want to end up with a salvation-garden of our life – I want to give away this SONGMICS 7 Piece Garden Tool Set!
COMPLETE FUNCTIONAL TOOLS: 6 hand tools are perfect for all your garden needs, such as digging, weeding, loosening soil, aerating and transplanting
HANDY TOTE BAG: The durable tote with multiple pockets is made of solid Terylene 600D, great to hold different kinds of hand tools
COMFORTABLE HANDLES: Ergonomical and soft-grip handle reduce hand and arm fatigue, providing you with great using experience
QUALITY BLADES & TINES: Sharp blade and tip are made of solid polished aluminum, which are shiny, rust-proof and extremely sturdy.
To get your name in the drawing for this tool set with tote bag, simply SHARE THIS BLOG POST on your Facebook wall or on Instagram or in an email with friends. Please be sure to let me know you shared it so I can add your name to the drawing!!
And after reading this, … go plant something! Maybe not an entire garden, but find some pots or maybe in a flower bed and get to planting! As a family, plant seeds of flowers, of grasses, or of ground cover. Have fun outside making a mini-garden of herbs or a cluster of ferns with ivies!
And have fun today and every day, planting seeds of Love! It truly is the better way. As we saw in yesterday’s blog, hating people has a terrible end. But with Love, the end is Everlasting!!
I Love you!