Give Loving Tenderness

Friends,

Love.

–What a concept.

And I don’t say that cynically. I mean it. It entails so much. Often love must rebuke. Or expose. Or allow for consequences. Or leave. Or wait. But whatever the case, love just often hurts. And it can hurt the heart and mind more than anything else conceivable. Especially when the love extended is treated indifferently… ignored… or even betrayed… A person would often rather die than endure that anguish…

Do we realize how many people are in acute pain? Pain from a loved one? Someone who has trampled their kindnesses, sneered at their efforts, yanked their emotions, and ripped them unmercifully? Do we fathom how many parents watch their teens ruin their lives, go off to prison, or become paralyzed by means of a drunk-driving accident?

Do we perceived that that person standing nearby in the check-out line –the one who scowls so as to think of things to be angry about that he may not think of all the sad things– may have just found out something horrible about a loved one that has made his heart crumble? How does one walk around, or talk, or exist… with a crumbled heart? It’s hard. Do those who have never gone through a divorce try to ask God for wisdom and tenderness in sympathizing with a friend who is in such a situation? Do we ask God for supernatural ability to empathize with someone who just lost a spouse or child to the grave, or even to abandonment or disappearance?

Friends, suffering is everywhere. Let’s open our eyes! Let’s do what we can! And one thing we can do, is give out tenderness… loving tenderness… Even just one genuine compassionate look or word will help.

This last Tuesday was an example of just doing the small things… the cup of cold water… I soberly realized that I could have refused, or… I could stop, look, listen, and act. It’s the tiny moments that do often make a world of difference. So… I was scurrying around Wal-Mart… A lady in a wheelchair said, “Hey, I love your boots.” (Compliment. Yep, one little word made me feel a teeny-weeny bit more positive about life… Not that I was having a bad day, but it was nice.) I said, “Oh, I know. I like these boots too. Thank you. I got them in Idaho, but guess where? Not some unique store. I got them at K-Mart! A simple old K-Mart in Idaho!” Her and her friend proceeded to exclaim about it all and then to talk about boots. Immediately, I decided that this was an encounter that, though it was about boots, not Jesus, some Christ-ordained edification could transpire. So I looked right into their faces, smiled at them, and… loved them. And I know they felt it. It wasn’t a long conversation… I ended it with, “Well, I hope you both have a very Merry Christmas!” –and they said the same.

Okay. So did that take more than maybe four minutes of my time? No. Did all three of us strangers bless each other? Yes. Was Christ-likeness shown, even though He was not discussed? Yes. Have I prayed for those two women’s salvation, peace, and health since? Yes. Could I have –if I’d not stopped and actually taken note of two fellow humans for whom Jesus died? No. Could they have kept it a secret that they liked my boots? Yes. And no edification would have then happened…

I have two points in telling about this. One, is that hearts are thirsty… thirsty for just one word of tenderness, of concern, of acknowledgment. So give a cup of water. –It does bring some cheer. The other point is that we must get in a habit –the habit of spotting opportunities to give the cup of cold water.

So, next I go through the check-out. The girl seemed abrupt, cold, tired… But was she laughing by the time I left? Yes. And so was I. Encouragement given out? Yes. Interest? Yes. I found out she has four kids! And she looked so young… I’d be tired too!

Then I get to the door. “Oh, bother,” I think, “–the receipt they always have to examine… Buggy…” But, guess what? –It was a little white-haired lady, and she immediately started telling me her woes… about a dog –that her son, who lives with her, took in –though it was a stray. Well, the dog got out, and the city, being she is the owner of the house, slapped her with an $800 fine! And now she has to go to court concerning a dog that isn’t even hers! Again, “cup of cold water”, I’m thinking, “So listen, and empathize.” So I told her how unfair and awful I think that truly is, and that I would contest it in court. I wished I could give her money, as she did look poor already; but at least I could give her what I had: A listening ear, a genuinely empathizing heart, some words of compassion.

Well, then later, I went to the nursing home. One of my friends there, an 89 year old man, told me, “I’m fasting this week –for five days. Breakfast is all I’m eating for five days.” He and his wife –who is 86 years old and in the same room as him– are two that love to talk about the Bible with me. So I said, “Wow, be careful about your health… Is it for spiritual reasons?” He proceeded to tell me that it was, and what he was so distraught about. I felt very sad to think that this old man, even in his frail health, should be so wounded by his own loved ones as to feel he had to fast.

Well, I could go on. Almost every day brings someone across my path that I can either choose to give out tenderness to, or withhold it. (And I’m sure it is the case with everyone reading this.) Does it hurt to risk loving? Yes –often. But it is a command that our Lord Jesus gave us. To love. To give the cup of cold water when able. Does this mean we throw pearls to swine, or give dogs what is sacred? (Matt. 7:6) No, for truly there are those who will, as Jesus warns there, “turn and tear you to pieces.” But those are the Pharisees, the arrogant elite, the rebellious. There are plenty of others who are just “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) And what does Jesus say in the very next verse? He says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” And in Matt. 20:28, “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Are we doing this WHENEVER possible? Are we working in His fields in the corner where He right now has us? Are we serving –not for men to see, not in “politically correct” fields, not just when it’s convenient, not that we may receive anything in return… but are we serving IN HIM, in the timing, the place, and the attitude of HIS will? Because any “compassionate” actions and words not done IN HIM and HIS WILL, are nothing.

But if we do claim to be in Him, abiding in His Words, doing the will of the Father, living a Holy Spirit-controlled life, and claiming to have the mind and heart of Christ, then we WILL give out cups of cold water constantly. And not just to those we like. We will give them to whoever the Lord’s Spirit in us tells us to give to!

So, let’s make it our habit… training ourselves to be godly (1 Tim. 4:7) in all areas. Including this one. This one of true love –with loving attitude, motive, action, and word. As Eph. 5:2 says, “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…” –JUST AS He loved. That’s HOW we are to love. –“Love… with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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~ by smilesback on December 10, 2009.

 
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