by David Sitzes
In Matthew 22: 34-40, one of the Pharisees who was a teacher of the Law was trying to trap Jesus with a question. (The Pharisees didn’t like Jesus and were always trying to trick him into saying something that wasn’t true to discredit him). The question was, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments. In Luke 10: 25-37, Luke tells us that the Pharisee then ask Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then tells him about ‘The Good Samaritan,’ which was Jesus’s way of telling him through this story that everyone you meet in your lifetime is your neighbor. It is so important to do our best to love one another — even if we don’t know them — every moment of every day, because you never know who really needs that love to get them through that day.
I have heard of stories of someone going through a really tough time and feeling really low and depressed, and then someone crosses their path and shows a little love, a smile, a kind word — and it just lifts them up and makes them feel better. And it’s a great feeling for someone to share their love with you, whether you know them or not. This reminds me of a story I read one time called “The Assignment Of Love” One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.
That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really?” she heard whispered. “I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” and, “I didn’t know others liked me so much,” were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on. Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one, those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin.
The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. She nodded ‘yes.’ Then he said: “Mark talked about you a lot.” After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher. “We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.” Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him. “Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.” All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.” Chuck‘s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.” “I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary.” Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet, and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: “I think we all saved our lists.”
That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. You know, the density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be, only God knows. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important every time you see them. Tell them, before it is too late. You know, someone once said, “Smile, and the whole world will smile with you.” And I say, “Love, and the whole world will love with you.” God loves everybody and we should do the same. ‘Love You All.’ ‘Maranatha’