Donuts are a universal sign of friendship, at least I think so. They can break down walls of division, create fast friendships, and strengthen good relationships. Well, they may not be miracle workers, but a good éclair sugar high can do wonders. I’ve given donuts to road construction workers, random businesses, schools, and yes, even police officers. Last week, I took donuts to my dentist’s office. While that may seem ironic, they are in the job of preventing and repairing cavities. Somewhere in between those, you have to live on the edge and eat a chocolate glazed donut with sprinkles or three. I remember one time I went to the revenue office to renew tags on my car and the line was literally out the door. Everyone seemed uptight with the wait. After all, it’s not the happiest place on earth. I decided to run down the street, grab some donuts, and head back. I figured if we have to wait, we might as well do it with donuts. You should have seen the faces of frustration turn into laughs and smiles. A cheerful heart is good medicine, Proverbs 17:22 says. It gave me a couple great opportunities to talk about Jesus with people with whom I would have otherwise sat in silence.
Donuts weren’t what brought joy – kindness was. Simple gestures can communicate love, compassion, and friendliness. I’ve learned if you want friends, you have to be friendly (that’s a Bible verse – Proverbs 18:24). While offering someone a donut and a smile can bring momentary happiness, true love is expressed in something much more substantial and eternal. It’s one thing to give people donuts and something altogether greater to give people the love of Christ. 1 John 4:9-10 says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Truth is, people need lasting love, hope, and joy. You can only find them in Christ. While a donut may be a good ice breaker, only the love of Jesus can satisfy spiritual hunger and bring peace to our troubled souls.
Because of God’s great love for us displayed through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we should be stirred to love others. Donuts have paved the way for many conversations about Christ. 1 John 4:11-12 goes on to say, “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” How can people see God? When we love others with the love of God, they see Jesus in us. Loving others in practical ways builds bridges the gospel can travel across. In a world that’s seemingly hard to love, we must go all in, take risks, and love people as Jesus would. Gospel-centered love takes steps into others’ lives, even when you don’t feel like it or think they will return the love. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Do not waste your time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor – act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” How do you grow in your love for people? Love them! Now, go get a dozen assorted donuts, mow your neighbor’s grass, or do something else with the love of Christ and watch how God opens conversations, minds, and hearts to Him.
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.