Love In Action
On the heels of Valentine’s Day, I’m guessing the topic of love or lack of love crossed your mind this past week. Maybe you are not a big fan of this much commercialized holiday and just ignore it or maybe you adorned yourself in pinks and reds while scattering rose petals, all the while hoping cupid would appear with a bouquet. Personally, I’m between the two extremes. I bought my boys chocolate, grilled the family heart shaped hamburgers and sent my husband a sweet and thoughtful text. Whether you celebrated February 14th with gusto, or not, I want to encourage us to extend the holiday and practice putting love into action this week.
As I pondered the topic of love, this vast, wide and deep topic, I considered what love looks like in its verb form, practically speaking, on a day in and day out basis, not just once a year, and not just something that young lovers chase after. What came to mind was a very non-romantic picture of what love in action looks like. I get up on Thursdays and swim at 5:30 AM. This is not my favorite thing to do. I go because a few good friends of mine show up to swim at the same time and because I love them, I go. You may have heard me talk about my contentious toe issue back in January. I shared that I broke my toe 30 years ago in the 6th grade and how today that old injury has flared up in the form of arthritis and a bone spur. It is very painful when I walk or run, especially when I’m not wearing shoes!!! Can you hear me whining? Well, my toe hurt a lot last Thursday as I limped barefooted down the cold and drafty hall in my bathing suit. I jumped in the pool and joined my friend Jill. As we began to swim, it occurred to me that I did not lock my locker where I had my purse and cell phone. I started thinking about the signs that were posted, warning about theft and how the club was not responsible for stolen items. UGH!! I knew I should go back down that cold and frigid hall but did not want to because my toe hurt. So when Jill and I stopped between sets, I asked her “Do you think my cell phone and purse are safe in my unlocked locker?” She said, “No way! You should go lock it. It will only take a few minutes.” I then whined about my toe. My sweet friend Jill jumped into action. She got out of the pool; she ran down the cold, drafty hall in her wet suit, with her dripping hair, found my locker, locked it and ran back down the freezing hallway BECAUSE she is an awesome friend who considered my wants above her own comfort.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, BUT it is a really big deal to me. My husband pointed out that I should feel terrible for allowing her to do this for me considering her health. You see, my friend Jill was just recovering from the flu (H1N1). She had told me earlier that she had been in so much pain she felt like she was dying and she is NOT a whiner, she is a Cardiac Intensive Care Nurse. Jill was bedridden for almost a week, ended up with pneumonia in both lungs and was struggling to walk just a few days prior to our swim. This was only her second day of attempting to work out after being down and out. At the mention of MY stuff getting stolen and MY hurt toe she demonstrated what it looks like to put love into action. Ok, I do feel bad about letting her run down the cold hall soaking wet with pneumonia for me! At the same time I am blown away by this simple but beautiful example of how we all should love. Yet, when I think about, it pales in comparison to the extreme demonstration of love that Christ extends to you and me all the time.
God demonstrated his love in action through His son Christ. In fact Romans 5:7-8 says “But one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ put love into action when He died on the cross for us while we were a mess, flawed, imperfect, and definitely undeserving. He continues to demonstrate His love for us day in and day out. As believers, we are called to be a reflection of Christ. If you want to love as Christ loves, then consider how you can love in action the flawed, imperfect and sometimes undeserving people that God has placed in your life.
I’ve got two nearly teen boys who definitely love each other but often miss the demonstrating the love in action towards each other piece. I’m not being critical of them because I can miss it too (like I should have stopped Jill!). This Valentine’s Day was a reminder to put this passage in Philippians 2 into practice. It highlights how to, practically speaking, love others as Christ loves us day in and day out. It says…
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:1-5
Here we see Paul is reminding us to get out of the pool, run down the freezing hallway, soaking wet, as we consider the needs of others above our own. When we do this, we have the same mindset of Christ and are demonstrating His love with our actions. Join me in praying …
Jesus, thank you for those you have placed in my life. Thank your for your comfort, your love, the gift of your Spirit, and your tenderness and compassion towards me. Let me be a reflection of you by demonstrating that same love towards other. Help me to see past my own circumstances and feelings and consider the needs of others above my own. In my relationship with others, let me have the same mindset of Christ. I claim the spirit of joy as I love others in action. In Your precious name, Amen.