The more I learn about love, the more and more I feel convicted, because I realize I haven't really been loving the people here in Portugal. Sure, I'm here serving God in this foreign country, and I'm talking to people about how God sent his Son to die for us because he loves us. But I didn't come to Portugal because I cared about these people. I came because I felt like it was my duty, or my obligation, as a follower of Christ. Recently, though, that perspective has started to change.
We are commanded to do two things—love God and love others. If we are doing these two things, then everything else will fall into place. We will live more like Christ lived, and we will share the gospel, because we genuinely want the best for others and the best is Christ.
1 Timothy 1:5-7 says: "The aim of our charge is love, that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions." This has been me far too often. I desire to teach what the Bible says for my own personal gain, when I should be sharing the gospel out of love.
I have found that I now care about the people I've met here in Portugal. I can't stand the thought that, right now, a lot of them are moving toward spending an eternity in hell. I have to be bold. I have to let them know that I don't want that to happen to them. I have to share my joy in Jesus Christ with them and tell them about how much our Creator loves us. This is my goal—to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, and soul, and to love others as much as I love myself.
Joel Bowden, a student at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, is serving with Go Now Missions in Lisbon, Portugal.