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Whether you compose novels or grocery lists, research papers or social media posts, you are a writer.
Yet we face a daily avalanche of information. Every day, more than 4 million blog posts publish, and Twitter users share some 500 million Tweets. With this glut of information, why should anyone read what you write? How can you write something worth reading?
You should focus on your craft, to be sure. You need grow in your grasp of grammar, develop a style and otherwise sharpen your writing skills. Good writers must be able to say what they want to say clearly, succinctly and effectively.
But that’s not all. You also need to focus on your heart. As Christians, we’re not just any writers. The Spirit of God indwells us, slowly but surely transforming us into the image of the Son. We have something unique to offer the world, something which should distinguish our work.
We have love.
Jesus painted a picture of this kind of love in the Great Commandment. He said,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-39)
Let’s write in such a way that the aroma of our Savior wafts off our sentences and paragraphs.
As Christians, love must permeate all we do. We worship, work, serve our families, play — and, yes, write — as an act of love to God or neighbor. Love must motivate us. Love must permeate our writing. And love must be the ultimate goal to which we strive — whether we’re writing novels or Tweets.
To borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, if we write with the pen of Hemingway and Dickens, but have not love, we are noisy gongs or clanging cymbals.
Sadly, we often don’t write for God, but for self. We craft every word in pride. We seek to glorify ourselves. In so doing, we do not love God in our writing. Other times, we write with an axe to grind. We rub the truth in our ideological opponents’ faces, or liberally infuse our words with sarcasm. In so doing, we do not love our neighbor.
But we must write not for ourselves, but for God and others.
Writing to love God and others doesn’t limit your writing to devotional topics or sermonic material. On the contrary, you can write fiction, thoughtful essays, laments, or grocery lists. You can tell stories, craft poems or point out flaws in the culture or church. The Great Commandment doesn’t necessarily limit what we write. It transforms how we write. We write not for our glory, but for God’s. We write not to misrepresent our opponents’ arguments, but to deal with them fairly and charitably. We write not to beat down our neighbor, but to serve her.
Sadly, this kind of writing is all too rare. But as followers of Christ, let’s be different. Let’s write in such a way that the aroma of our Savior wafts off our sentences and paragraphs.
Portions of this article were adapted from an article published on April 2, 2019.