Love the Whole World… One Person at a Time
By Becca Stevens
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32)
Once, when I was in Ghana working with one of Thistle Farms’ global partners, I had the opportunity to sit down with the leaders there and share a meal. When I didn’t finish my food, a young woman who worked for our partner organization took my plate to the kitchen. My heart broke as I watched her eat every scrap off of my plate before washing it. Witnessing her hunger, and acknowledging God’s tremendous blessings in my life, motivated me to renew my determination to keep working to help women in need. I know that the work of Thistle Farms here in the United States matters to her.
Part of our journey with God is growing in our generosity to others as we become more aware of God’s outrageous generosity toward us. We give generously because of all the mercy and grace we have been shown. Paul tells us in Acts chapter four that the early Christians practiced loving generosity on a scale that would most likely be uncomfortable for us. When the first Christians heard Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself,” they took it seriously. Acts 4:32 tells us that “no one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but shared everything they had.” The early church understood that the deep and abiding love of Jesus quells our fear, and allows us to love others with more courage and generosity.
It is daunting to try to love the whole world one person at a time, but that is the task of being a disciple. We can all love the world through our interactions, our business choices, our lifestyle choices, and how we choose to spend our time. In the world of human trafficking, I can think about the young woman in Ghana hungry for the scraps off my plate and know that what I do here in the United States matters to her.
Sometimes, we get bogged down in wondering how God wants us to share His love with the world, but it is really pretty simple - He asks us to choose love and generosity in the small things, every step along the way.
Lord, You have made us in Your image. Teach us this day, to see every person we meet, whether on the streets or in the mirror, as Your incarnate face. All our journeys begin and end with You- now we need to learn how to travel close to You on our way home. As I walk by Your side, grant me the humility and courage to simply love the next person who crosses my path. Amen.
Becca Stevens is an author, speaker, Episcopal priest, justice entrepreneur, and founder and president of Thistle Farms (Nashville, TN). Thistle Farms is the largest social enterprise in the U.S. led by survivors of prostitution, addiction, and trafficking. Her latest book is Love Heals (Thomas Nelson). Follow Becca on twitter @RevBeccaStevens or visit BeccaStevens.org and ThistleFarms.org.