“Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ Mt. 22:37-39
Whine, whine, whine. Silence. Whine, whine. Quiet. Whine, whine, whine, whine. Or was it a whimper? Anyway. Whimper, whimper, whimper. Quiet. A moment’s peace. Or two. Then the whining. Whimpering. Whatever it was. I know it well. Not just because I’ve had zillions of dogs through the years, but because I’ve done my fair share of whining. Not just to people. But to the Lord. All sin, of course. But this isn’t about me. I’m talking about a dog. A dancing dog. Called Dancer. Found on a short tie-up without food or water, brought to a shelter, hauled off to me years ago rather than be euthanized in an overcrowded southern shelter. A now senior dog, doing less dancing, but still dancing dog, who had come to find it enjoyable to whine. Or whimper, or whatever.
Now if you know me, most especially when I’m exhausted from my ministry work, coupled with caring for the last of the special needs and senior rescued dogs in my care after over 20 years of dog rescue work, I not only have a noise sensitivity, in my estimate anyway, but I can go off the deep end if there’s an incessant noise that just won’t let up no matter what I do. Such became the case one Friday afternoon when I had just finished spending time with the Lord taking a walk and now was ready to do some writing, eat some, and get some much needed rest. Whine, whine. Whimper, whimper. What could Dancer possibly want? I had taken him out to go to the bathroom so many times already. I had offered him water. Why wouldn’t he let up? I was ready to scream, to tear my hair out, when I decided to try a different tactic. I reached out my hand and gave him a big bunch of love. The result was amazing. He was thrilled! He was so happy and delighted that when I was through, this 13 year old beagle went high-tailing it around at top speed, around the room, from one direction to another, showing his excitement! Imagine, that’s all he had wanted! And how simple and easy and even rewarding it was to give him that love.
This message isn’t about a dog, though, as you may imagine. It’s about us. And whining. Whimpering. And love. There’s a whole bunch of people out there in this world that need to be loved, and, specifically, to see Christ’s love, in action, not just in handouts, like by providing food, shelter, clothing, help with bills, etc., but in personal, focused, dedicated, demonstrations of love. Like a hug. A smile. A listening ear. Words of encouragement. A shared meal. Kindness. An outstretched arm to help someone across the street. Standing by someone’s side while they wait for the a tow truck. Personal attention. Everyone needs to hear the Gospel message, and everyone needs help in not only giving their lives to Christ, but in following Him. But we also need everyday love, Christ’s love in a tangible way.
And the truth is that not everyone expresses their need for love, and their desire for love, in a friendly, polite, respectful, and mature way. Sometimes people in need of love are demanding, annoying, irritating, bothersome, interrupting, whining, whimpering, self-pitying, complaining, negative, mean, smelly, ugly, dirty, whatever. Sometimes they’re the last people we want to stop what we’re doing for, or set some time aside for, to love. Sometimes we want to scream and tear our hair out. But the Lord’s command for us to love others is not contingent on whines and whimpers. It’s contingent on His love for us, and for others, and our love for Him, and our obedience to Him in loving and obeying Him and loving others in His name.
Perhaps there is someone or some people in your life you’ve been holding back from loving. Or perhaps you will soon run into someone who greatly annoys you, or maybe the Lord has placed on your heart someone you can’t even conceive of taking the time to go out of your way to love.
Let us love others, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Spirit of God so leads us, for the glory of the Lord, oh let us love!