Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. –Romans 12:9-14
Ashley Smith had a very unusual day on March 12, 2005. She was returning from a convenience store in the middle of the night, when accused rapist and murderer Brian Nichols took her hostage. What happened in the next few hours was simply a “God-thing.”
As the night wore on, Smith remained calm and took the opportunity to get to know her captor by making conversation. At one point, she asked him if she could read aloud a book she had sitting out. The book was Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.
In the midst of an unimaginable situation, Ashley Smith practiced what she preached. Perhaps she didn’t know it came from the book of Romans, but she showed Nichols a sincere, brotherly love as she talked with him about his family and his life. At the same time, she also was straightforward with him, suggesting he turn himself in and stop hurting people. She saw through his hardened eyes and saw a man who needed hope. Through her sincere kindness, love and peace, she was an example of Christ. Somewhere in the night Nichols looked at Smith and told her that she must be an angel and, according to People magazine (March 28, 2005), “that he was lost, and God led him right to [Smith] to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people.”
It is so much easier to show kindness and love to those who return our kindness and love. It is easy to go through the motions of etiquette and, speak kindly to someone or pretend to have compassion, when in reality our minds are elsewhere. God calls us to a higher standard. He calls us to genuinely love others around us. This kind of love requires deliberate action and personal involvement. It is this kind of love that brings people to their knees. It is this kind of love that helps people see Jesus in Christians. I believe it is this kind of love that helped save Ashley Smith’s life.
1. Think about a person in your life who is hard to love. How can you spend time this week praying for him or her?
2. Why is it so important to be an example of Christ’s love to others?
Amos 5:15; 1 Timothy 1:5; Philippians 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:9