By LESLIE LUDY
Eric Exudes Christ’s Love
Ever since I have known Eric, he’s had a built-in compassion radar toward everyone around him. When I walk into a roomful of new people, I have a tendency to think more about my own social discomfort than the state of the human souls around me. Eric is the opposite. He has a genuine love and concern for people, and he reaches out to them with the love of Christ, probably more than anyone else I have ever met.
No matter how tired he may be, Eric has often witnessed to a fellow passenger or bus driver on the way to a speaking event or hotel, and he’s even led people to Christ in a taxi just as we were pulling up to the curb at the airport. He shows love and interest to the person cutting his hair, the person bagging his groceries, and the person serving his food at a restaurant.
Eric’s love, care, honor, and respect toward others is consistent no matter who he is talking to. He doesn’t show a greater measure to one kind of person over another. People sense his sincere interest in their lives. He doesn’t just try to cram truth down people’s throats. Rather, he seeks to show the love and nature of Jesus Christ to each person that he comes in contact with. Even if he doesn’t speak the Gospel with his mouth, he speaks it with his life, in every situation – whether at the check out line in the grocery store, sitting on an airplane, or standing behind a pulpit to preach.
I am always amazed at how Eric can put aside his own issues and needs and focus entirely on someone else. This kind of selflessness is something that I have to really work at, but something that is second nature to my husband. Through his example, I’ve learned that one of the best cures for depression, anxiety, and self-pity is to turn outward. There is a joyful, heavenly exhilaration that comes from setting “self” aside and becoming Christ’s hands and feet to this lost and dying world. As Eric and I have practiced the principle of turning outward, we’ve discovered a heavenly joy that cannot be manufactured through any selfish pursuit.
Eric is extremely generous. Time and time again, I have seen him give sacrificially of his time and resources to people in need. As a ministry, we don’t often receive large financial gifts, mainly because, as a general rule, we don’t ask people for money. But a few years ago, a rare large gift was given to Eric personally. Rather than use it for our own personal needs or desires, Eric chose to re-direct the money into the Ellerslie Rescue Fund and use it strictly for adoption and orphan care.
On the personal side, I have seen Eric be very generous with his time and money for our family, especially in the area of adoption. While some other men are concerned with building up their savings accounts and keeping their family small in order to make their resources stretch farther, Eric has always been ready to say yes when God has opened our eyes to a child in need of a family. His willingness to adopt more children has put an incredible demand on his time, energy, and our resources as a family. Yet, he has never balked at the inconvenience or hesitated to give everything we have for the sake of these little ones. Instead of having a large savings account or retirement fund built up, we have invested the bulk of our “extra money” into adopting – putting our treasure into a heavenly bank account instead of an earthly one. Eric has never had any doubt that God will take care of our needs as we simply walk in obedience to Him. And God has been faithful at every turn.
Eric is also generous with his time and energy. He does not leave me to do all the “dirty work” of raising young children. Even though he carries an enormous workload each day, he willingly gets up in the night to tend to crying children, changes diapers and pull-ups, and cleans up rather disgusting kid messes that other men often leave solely to their wives.
Now it’s true that Eric is almost completely helpless when it comes to picking out kids’ clothes, doing girls’ hair, or finding any food that is not in the very front of the refrigerator. But in the areas where I really need him – even the areas that don’t often seem like “men’s work” – he gives 100%.
The reason we can make life work with a full-time ministry and six children is because we work together as a team, and Eric is not “above” doing any parental duty that needs to be done. Rather, he frequently does difficult tasks cheerfully and willingly.
Our children feel secure in their father’s love. Never does Eric belittle our children when they have done something wrong. He disciplines them, but he always does so with love, honor, and grace. He makes our family life fun – putting energy into family time, asking fun questions at the dinner table, and doing silly dances around the kitchen to make the kids laugh. He truly delights in his children and loves to watch them discover and grow. He appreciates the uniqueness of each one, and truly enjoys hearing little stories and tidbits from the cute and precious things they say and do. In fact, Eric is often the one who helps me remember to delight in my children daily instead of getting completely preoccupied with the logistics of running a home and tending to my ministry tasks.
Eric is marked by Christlike love in each sphere of his life. As a leader, he frequently gives people the benefit of the doubt, and shows great patience with others’ faults and shortcomings. There have been certain times in ministry when I’ve been so frustrated with someone that I have wanted to confront them or ask them to step down, but Eric’s first response is always to offer grace. He doesn’t make decisions based on emotion or frustration, but waits for the gentle direction of God’s Spirit. He always considers the other person’s feelings and how he can most honor them, no matter how difficult the situation.
There is one amazing fact I have come to know beyond a shadow of a doubt over the past twenty years of marriage: Eric Ludy genuinely loves those who hate him. The enemy despises the truth that Eric stands so passionately for and the powerful way God has used him to change people’s lives and point them to the Gospel. I have seen Satan use the pride, selfishness, and immaturity of others to berate, belittle, slander, and falsely accuse Eric in ways that would drive many other men to retaliate in rage. Eric’s response has always been love.
Several years ago, before Ellerslie began, someone whom Eric had sacrificially loved and invested into for years turned against him. I watched in disbelief as this person repaid love with spite and loyalty with betrayal. Though this person seemed obsessed with tearing Eric down, Eric continued to love and pray for him no matter what he did. Whenever we would talk about the situation, I saw that Eric’s heart was truly grieving – not for his own misfortune of being so mistreated, but for the blindness and imprisonment of the other person’s soul. Eric knew that this person’s anger and pride held him in a vice grip, and he desperately wanted to see him set free. Eventually, Eric’s consistent love and prayers changed the other person’s heart and opened his eyes to see how wrong and blind he had been.
The power of Christlike love in Eric’s life is evident. The fact that he can love in the face of hatred and betrayal is truly a testimony of the amazing grace of God at work in his soul.
I vividly remember one situation when a fellow ministry leader screamed at Eric in a fit of uncontrolled anger because of a decision Eric had made that the man didn’t like. The man spewed violent obscenities at Eric, threatened him, and spat horrible accusations at him for ten minutes straight. I was shocked at the hatred coming out of this man’s mouth and had no idea what Eric would possibly say in response to such vitriolic rage. But just as soon as the man stopped screaming, the first words out of Eric’s mouth were, “I love you.”
Eric has had many opportunities to repay evil for evil by exposing men like this to public humiliation and embarrassment. Yet in each situation of betrayal and reviling, I have seen Eric “turn the other cheek” as well as exhibit the love that “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). Rather than expose and retaliate, Eric has chosen instead to quietly, consistently love and pray for those who hate him. This is one of the greatest evidences to me of God’s grace upon his life and work within Eric’s soul. It is an example that challenges, inspires, and amazes me.
Principles for Cultivating Christlike Love:
Turning outward, giving sacrificially, and showing genuine love to our enemies is a work that only Christ can accomplish in our souls. Throughout history, the most incredible witnessing for the Gospel has happened when men and women chose to show Christ’s love in the face of torture, persecution, imprisonment, and even martyrdom. This is far beyond the ability of any human love. The only way that we can cultivate Christlike love is to surrender our lives, without reserve, to the Author of love Himself. We must exchange our lives for His. We must learn what it means to be “a new creature in Christ” where “old things have passed away and all things have become new” (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). If you are holding on to your life and only letting Christ have part of you, you will not be able to live the supernatural, love-based existence that He has called you to. I encourage you to get alone with God and give Him everything, holding nothing back. Ask Him to overtake your life and equip you with the kind of love and selflessness you could never demonstrate on your own. Only when He has your entire heart can He work this profound miracle within you.