My niece is a Registered Nurse. Her career is all about taking care of the sick and the dying, and for her it's a very rewarding career. But she can tell you, the
work of a nurse can be trying sometimes, especially when the patient is in pain and not very appreciative of your care. For those times, Jesus told a parable about serving, in Matthew 25, and included the words "because you did it for one of these, you've done it to me". But I wonder if that principle goes beyond just "something you do to help someone." What if it also applies in everyday life and in our relationships?
Here's a tough question: Do you respond to family members and friends, in conversation and in stressful times, the same way you would to Jesus, if he were the one receiving your words and attitudes? I have to admit I don't. But if everything I do is also "you've done it to Jesus" then I have a long way to go.
There's a famous description in 1 Cor. 13 that defines love by actions, restraint, and attitudes. Those are all great ideals, and I believe they spring specifically from the way God himself is. But when life isn't treating me the way I want, and other people are being difficult, it's not a simple task to run calmly down that list and decide how I"m going to respond. I tend to get in a hurry and make a knee-jerk reaction, one that isn't as loving.
Besides, Jesus is not calling us to be nice only to those who are nice to us: "even the pagans do that" he reminds us in Matthew 5. He's asking us to love and serve those who really don't deserve it, those whom we would otherwise avoid. He fed thousands who hadn't done a thing to help him. He touched and healed the contagious sick, the ones others fled from. He served when he was tired, and always forgave. On the cross, after enduring every abuse, and betrayal by those who were the closest to him, his words were "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing."
What an example! But more than being just an example to follow, Jesus lives in you and me today. He gives us -- if we will receive it -- his own love in all the ways described in 1 Cor. 13 and even more. As his followers we are called, and given his power, to love, serve, and forgive all. So here's a question for reflecting on daily life: Today, are you living 'as unto the Lord'? Are you saying and doing and feeling toward all his kids, just as you would to Jesus himself?
I'm praying for you, and I ask you to you pray for me, that we may each live a life of love to others, 'as unto the Lord.'