Valentine’s Day was just a few days ago. The holiday of love. But really, shouldn’t every day be a day of love?
Not romantic love, but compassionate love. Not syrupy sentimentality that has no depth or full-bodied flavor. Not pious charity that exists only to bolster the one expressing it. But rather, a compassionate love that is deeply moving and results in very practical expression from one person to another. A Jesus kind of love.
Interestingly, the gospels record Jesus expressing this kind of compassion repeatedly. The word used most often by the ancients describes a person being moved in their most inward parts – to their very depths. But that never was the end of it. That deep inward feeling was always practically expressed for the benefit of someone else. Compassion felt deeply and then blind eyes seeing – deaf ears hearing – lame legs strengthened – leprous skin made whole. And remarkably, the recipients were not normally the wealthy or influential or powerful…but rather the needy, the weak, the powerless and those not fully embraced by the prevailing culture. And, if that’s not enough motivation, Jesus said this kind of practical compassion not only blesses the recipient, but also blesses him!
In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says, “Whatever you did for these weak and powerless ones, you did for Me.” Wow! Jesus so identifies with the weak and powerless that in blessing them practically we bless him. Don’t we want to take advantage of every opportunity to bless Jesus? Then, the question arises, who are the weak and powerless in our culture? Perhaps the homeless, the single parents, maybe people of color who live in a cultural system skewed toward Caucasians, perhaps the immigrants endeavoring to escape despotic regimes and find safe haven and a better life, seniors on the edge financially, children trafficked sexually or the one in four kids who go to bed hungry every night in our own country…the list goes on and on.
This kind of compassion is not without risks. It’s the kind of love that can be taken advantage of…it is certainly risky. But it is far superior to playing it close to the vest or succumbing to a commitment to one’s own self interests. Unconditional compassion far outweighs self-interest and self- indulgence.
So, though Valentine’s Day rolls around only once a year, let’s determine to live out Days of Love each day of the year…practical expressions of compassion toward our children, toward the immigrant, toward people of a different color, toward the elderly, toward those normally considered social pariahs. Blessings will multiply – even, amazingly, toward Jesus! And yes, we will be blessed as well!
Jim Thorburn writes from Community Presbyterian.