35 Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. 36 Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
During the ending of a fantasy sitcom, the punch-line went something like this:
“…So in the end, the world doesn’t even know that we saved them all from disaster.”
“…The least they could say is, ‘Thank you!”
It was a charming happy ending where someone was helped; disaster was averted and everything turned out okay. But when I think of God’s calling to: “Love your enemies, do good…be compassionate…” I am further reminded about how often life doesn’t give us those neat happy endings.
Maybe we want to be loving or compassionate, but somehow we quietly look for the positive take-away returned back to us. I think sometimes we have unrealistic expectations when we love others. We imagine that if we show compassionate love for someone, they should at least: show a transformation, offer us love in return, or minimally say, “Thank you!”
Perhaps you think that I am wrong in my thinking or just being cynical. But think about the last time you went out of your way to help someone who did not show gratitude in return. Particularly someone where you’ve had some differences–did you really want to lovingly and compassionately help them again?
Our grandiose thinking means that we may look beyond our enemy or someone who needs our help because we have decided that they won’t “appreciate it.” It is as if we think that somehow their actions need to show that they deserve our loving support. Yet God’s love for us was never dependent on our loving reaction. We have never had to earn God’s love. Even if we never show our thanksgiving to God, God’s compassionate love is offered to us despite the cost. May we in turn offer love to all, despite the return.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
I recently found myself gritting my teeth with caution over someone that needed my compassion. I found myself thinking this person is not even going to “thank me.” It’s then that I remember that God doesn’t wait for my thanksgiving to show me loving support.
How many times have we heard this message of ultimate love? Is it so hard for us to do? Think about a time that your loving compassion did not yield the results that you’d expected. Did this jade your thinking about helping/loving or showing compassion the next time? How does God call us to love others anyway?
Prayer: Compassionate God, thank you for your loving support. Despite our reaction and our inaction, you love us anyway. You never withhold your love and grace from us. Help us to show loving compassion to all others, despite the cost or the return. Amen.