When Jesus was asked what the greatest command is, He surprised the inquirer by offering two commandments: Love God and love others. These were not options for a disciple, but rather by following these two commands, someone could fulfill all of the law. Despite the simplicity of these commands, they can be extremely difficult to follow. That’s one reason bestselling author Gary Chapman has penned THE LOVE AS A WAY OF LIFE DEVOTIONAL (co-written with Elisa Stanford), a 90-day devotional designed to help you make love a daily habit.
Designed as a complement to LOVE AS A WAY OF LIFE, Chapman identifies seven characteristics of a loving person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity and honesty. He believes that by reflecting these qualities in everyday life, we reflect the love of God to our friends, family and spouse.
Each short reflection begins with a scripture, then includes a reading portion that’s two or three minutes long, and concludes with a thought, prayer or action step. Many of the reflections draw on inspirational stories or quotes. Readers will be familiar with illustrations from Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi and others. But some of the best stories are the personal ones from Chapman’s life. For example, Chapman tells the story of his friend, Joe Warner, who visits his home every Christmas with a box filled with sugary sweet oranges. Though Warner is in his 80s, he continues to pursue such acts of kindness and offers a colorful reminder that love is often portrayed in small yet significant ways.
Another beautiful story is told of Mary Jo Copeland’s care of the homeless and poor at Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The primary mission is to reach out to the disadvantaged. Copeland’s practical approach to helping others by providing everything from socks to warm meals is a tangible expression of God’s love.
Chapman writes: “The life of Christ reminds us that only when we take the attitude of a servant can we grow into the character of God. Every time we serve someone else, the results are out of our control --- who knows how the other person will react? Yet those are the moments we understand Christ’s love for us most deeply.”
One of the great strengths of THE LOVE AS A WAY OF LIFE DEVOTIONAL is its brevity. The short, easy-to-read portions make this a wonderful resource for those who want to supplement their reading of Chapman’s full-length book. It’s also a great gift for anyone who is brand new to the faith.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on October 7, 2008