Sermon Illustrations

There was once a missionary on furlough with her husband and family after an unusually tiring stint of service. She had been looking forward to this time with great anticipation. For the first time she was going to have a place of her own, a new, large townhouse-styled apartment with a patio. She is very creative and made the patio the focus of her decoration.

After a few months some new neighbors moved in. The best word to describe them would be coarse. There was loud music day and night along with a constant flow of obscenities. They urinated in the front yard in broad daylight. They totally disrupted her peace. She could see nothing good in them.

She asked the Lord to help her be more loving. All she got back from the neighbors was disgust and rejection. The crisis came when she returned home to discover that her neighbors’ children had sprayed orange paint all over her beautiful patio—the walls, the floors—everything! She was distraught and furious. She tried to pray but found herself crying out, “I cannot love them. I hate them!”

Knowing she had to deal with the sin in her heart, she began to converse with the Lord in her inner being, and a Scripture came to mind:

Colossians 3:14 [14]And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (ESV)

In her heart she questioned, “Lord, how do I put on love?” The only way she could picture it was like putting on a coat. So that is what she determined to do—she chose to wrap herself in the love of God! As a result she began to experience a deeper life of Christ within her.

She made a list of what she would do if she really loved her exasperating neighbors, then did what she had listed. She baked cookies, she offered to baby-sit for free, she invited the mother over for coffee—and the most beautiful thing happened! She began to know and understand them. She began to see that they were living under tremendous pressures. She began to love her “enemies.” She did good to them. She lent to them without expecting anything back.

The day came when they moved—and she wept! An unnatural, unconventional love had captured her heart—a supernatural love—the love of Jesus. (Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke : That you may know the truth. Preaching the Word (223). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.)