And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Mt 10:42 NKJV
Last year about this time I was finally realizing that my wife would not be home for Valentine’s Day. Nancy had left just before Christmas to fly 3,000 miles to California to take care of a sister who lived alone and had been hospitalized after a terrible fall. Diane’s diagnosis was not good, and her rare lung disease (ILD) was rapidly taking away her strength. Though I missed Nancy, I was also so proud of my wife who was such a champion through all the months of missing Christmas with her grandchildren, losing sleep and holding up under the pressures of becoming a caregiver. When I just happened to stop at the Walgreens to pick up a prescription, I noticed the fancy heart shaped boxes of chocolate candy and decided to send one along with a card for Nancy. As I dropped the candy into my cart I paused and decided that just for fun I would pick up a second smaller box for Diane and I picked out a card for her as well.
After dropping the Valentine’s stuff in the mail that afternoon, I pretty much forgot all about it, till a few days later. The phone rang and my wife’s happy voice on the other end reminded me how much she loved chocolates and that my little gift was just what she needed that day. As we spoke, I could hear Diane in the background saying something I couldn’t make out, then Nancy paused and said, “Just a minute Diane has something she wants to tell you.”
As I listened to the sound of the phone being passed, wondering what could be so important, Diane’s voice with the happiest tone I had ever heard came on the line. “Peter, thank you so much for sending me the card and the chocolates! Do you know that you are the first person in my life who ever sent me a box of candy for Valentine’s Day?”
I tell this story, not because i want anyone to think I did some tremendous act of kindness, but to encourage you to know the value of the smallest kindness you can show another person. It is rarely the cost of the gift you are giving, but about the demonstration of love that tells them, you matter, you have value and I remember you. On Valentine’s Day we do special things for our spouse or for someone we love. This year, why not remember that it is also an opportunity to show God’s love to someone who is alone. That small kindness tells them that God remembers and values them. It might be a small box of chocolates, a handful of flowers or even just a cup of cold water but is precious to Jesus and something that He promises will never lose its reward!
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:19 KJV
“Private property”, read the sign by the edge of the pond. “No hunting fishing or trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” But just feet away a stranger sat, fishing pole in hand on the little dock. As the farmer’s wife approached, she smiled and asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Oh I always fish here.” The man responded with a shrug. “I have permission from, Rita Modei.”
“Really?” she responded with a quiet chuckle. “Well I’m Rita. I don’t know you – so get off my land!”
That true story happened just up the road from us, and it reminded me of today’s verse. Just like that guy, most of us start off explaining our faith by saying something about God’s love. “Jesus loves you.” Or “God is love.” These phrases roll easily off our lips, but in our daily lives sometimes we are a lot like the guy fishing in someone else’s pond. We know about it. We have heard there are some big fish in there, but we have never actually met the owner! Paul tells us that this love of Christ is something that is beyond our understanding. But the good news is that God wants us to know it. He has seen us fishing in His pond and has come to talk with us – but unlike our neighbor, He didn’t come to throw us off His land. He came to meet us. He came so that His love could be lived out in the ordinary circumstances of our lives. He is ready to give a fishing license to everyone who puts their faith in Him. We might be trespassing on His property, but He isn’t looking to prosecute us to the fullest extent of the law. His is a love that is fishing for our hearts, and He invites you to come fishing today!
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:11-12
“Brother do you love me?” asked one of my jokester friends at Bible college one day. I was kind of puzzled where Jose was going with this so I decided to play along. “Okay Jose. I love you. What do you need?’ I answered. “Then obey my commandments!” he shouted with a big grin. Now that is a special memory and kind of a funny story that I still carry after fifty years, but it got me to thinking about Jesus and His commandment. We might think about it this way – the Pharisees had a list of six hundred plus commandments, Moses gave us ten, but Jesus narrowed the list down to one. Think of it like me going into the grocery store. In my hand is a list of four things which my wife has carefully written down. Nancy being a detail person usually includes things like the brand, and size she needs and even the aisle where I can find her items. Imagine her response if I returned home with two of the four things missing! Yet this happens every day with us. Jesus only left us one commandment – love one another as I have loved you.” Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why everybody loves Jesus! Jewish people love him as a great teacher, Muslims love Him as a general in God’s army, Hindus love His peaceful resistance to unjust authority and even a good number of professed atheists think He was a nice guy. The reason these folks generally never show up for church has a lot less to do with Jesus than with how we flop at obeying His commandment.
So how can we do better? First, we could start remembering that His great commandment is not a nice suggestion. Swindlers and sick folks, strangers and thieves all felt right at home with Jesus. They each came to Him, not because He was one of them; but because they knew that He cared about them and was ready to help at any hour of the day or night. The problem is they often don’t feel that way with us. So then, who can I love today like Jesus loved me? I am convinced that God has a detailed grocery list that includes their brand, size and location and we can be assured that it will be the joy of His heart to show us exactly how if we are ready to obey!