Dad stopped and let him climb in the back next to me. I remember he was dripping wet and shivering with cold. He thanked my father profusely then turned and said to me, “Your father is a good Samaritan”.
I remember feeling so proud of my dad in that moment. It was a feeling I would have many times in my life as I witnessed my father’s compassion and love for people and his quiet, self effacing way of giving of himself to others.
How much of our character is shaped by the example of people in our lives?
My father once told me about something that happened in his home when he was a boy. The family had just sat down for the evening meal when there was a knock at the door. His mother went to the door and returned saying it was just someone asking for some food. She’d explained that they barely had enough for themselves and sent him away. Immediately his father ran after the man, brought him back, sat him down and gave the man his meal.
My grandmother was furious but my father could still remember the words my grandfather spoke, “Hush woman, this man needs a meal much more than I do”.
How powerful was that example to a young man … compassion, sacrifice and standing up for what he believed to be right. I can’t help thinking it had a lot to do with the person my father became.
Dan Allender says, “Love is the most essential, life-giving gift we offer to another human being … Love is not only the summary of the law, but by implication, the central measuring rod by which my life will be judged” (Romans 13:8-10).
It’s putting the other person’s needs before my own … an act of selflessness and often sacrifice. It sounds noble, but loving well makes us vulnerable and open to be hurt, maybe that’s why love is not often a natural and consistent response in most of our lives.
How often in the every day do we consciously make choices based on a heart of love? How often do I ask the question, “What does love look like in this situation” before acting or reacting? Not as often as I would like.
Yet I know my life and example speak far louder than my words.
“Is love the most prized possession in our home, the most cherished character trait we pursue, the most central lesson we teach in all we do?”
Dan Allender, Bold Love
The love for equals is a human thing – a friend for a friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.
The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing – the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.
The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing – to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints.
And then there is the love for the enemy – love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love.
It conquers the world.