We all know that God gifts his children differently through the presence and power of his Holy Spirit. We also know that God gives us all different opportunities to increase his kingdom. But, lately, I’ve had a few conversations that have stretched my thinking in other ways as well.
For one thing, several people have commented about or asked something like this: “How far does your heart extend?”
Now, I should define what this questions means, as I’ve come to understand it. And, it helps me to start with what the question doesn’t mean. For one thing, the question is not asking whether or not you love God or others. In fact, for this question, loving God and loving others is assumed. Second, the question does not assume that the farther your heart extends the more you love God or others.
Instead, this question is asking something different: To whom is God directing your love, passions, and concerns? Like with the question of spiritual gifts or opportunities to serve, no answer is better or worse than other answers. However, thinking through this question can help us understand how God wants to use us.
For example, God has given some people a very strong passion and love and concern for the people immediately around them – the people that they see every day. They are content in their spirit serving the people who live near them.
For other people, God has given them a very strong passion and love and concern for people around the world. They are content when they are serving people in a variety of locations.
Finally, I think God gives all of us strong passions and loves and concerns for people somewhere along this spectrum, from the people near us to people across the globe. Again, neither end of the spectrum is better than the other. And, having passions, loves, and concerns at one end of the spectrum does not mean that we should not display love toward others (either near or far).
Instead, if we can honestly answer the question, “How far does your heart extend?” then we may be able to better understand which direction God is leading us. Is he leading us to primarily pour our lives into the people in a certain location, or is he leading us to primarily pour our lives into people in different locations?
Also, answering this question can also help us grow in the other direction. For example, if God has extended our hearts to people around the world, we need to constantly check our attitude and service toward those near us. And, if God has extended our hearts to people nearby, we need to constantly check our love and concern for those around the world.
Finally, asking and answering this question can help us check our attitudes toward people whom God is using in a different way. If we pour our lives into people nearby, do we think less of those who have loves and concerns spread around the world (and, thus, not as “dedicated” to people near us)? Or, if we have passions for people spread around the globe, do we think less of those who spend so much time loving and caring for physical neighbors (instead of shifting their concerns toward “the nations”)?
But, in general, asking and answering that question can help us determine how and where God may be using us: How far does your heart extend?
So, I’ll ask you: How far does your heart extend?