Many people have good ideas, good morals, and good plans for how the world could be made a better place. But so often those ideals are empty, because what’s missing is the love to back them up. What gets people’s attention more than great words are real deeds. Gayle Erwin commented on this point:
At a Christian festival I had a conversation with two couples, one of whom was Buddhist, in response to a session I had had in the afternoon. About halfway through the conversation, the Christian man lit a cigarette and apologized, saying that he wanted to give them up because they hurt his witness. The Buddhist woman responded with a statement that continues to shake me:
She said, “We non-Christians, when one of our rank becomes a Christian, do not watch them to see how well they live up to some self-imposed standard of piety. We watch them to see how they start treating people.”
Gayle Erwin, The Jesus Style, Part 3\
Here’s a story taken from Leading as a Friend, by John C. Maxwell and Mark Littleton, which shows love put into action through caring about someone else:
Love Speaks Louder
Shelley and Jean had a great friendship. But as they got older, Shelley began to mix with the wrong kids.
One evening Shelley invited Jean on a double date with two cute, older boys Shelley had met recently. The girls told their parents they were going to get a pizza, then see a movie. But to Jean’s surprise, the boy who was driving didn’t head toward the pizza place; he headed toward a dark road! When Jean objected, Shelley told her to relax, that they were going to have fun that night. Then the boys laughed and passed Shelley a bottle of whiskey, which she promptly turned up and started drinking.
Jean told Shelley and the boys that she didn’t want any part of what they were doing and demanded that they take her back home. “Oh, come on,” Shelley said. “Just once, don’t be so righteous!”
“I mean it, Shelley,” Jean said. “This is dangerous, it’s against the law, and we could get in big trouble. I’m not doing this! Tell them to take us home!”
“Oh, take her home, Zeke. She’s just going to ruin everything,” Shelley told the boy who was driving. Angrily, Zeke spun the car around and sped back toward town. When they got to Jean’s street, he slammed on the brakes at the corner and yelled, “Nice meeting you!”
“Please, Shelley, come home with me,” Jean whispered. “Don’t go alone with them. You don’t know them!” But Shelley wouldn’t leave the car, so Jean, crying, walked home by herself.
The next morning, Jean got a phone call from Shelley’s parents. Shelley was in the hospital. Someone had dumped her, unconscious, on their front porch in the middle of the night, then left. When the paramedics got Shelley to the hospital, her parents discovered she had drunk so much whiskey that she suffered alcohol poisoning and was nearly dead when they found her.
Jean visited Shelley in the hospital. Jean thought long and hard about what to say to Shelley.
When Jean sat down, Shelley said with contempt, “I suppose you’re going to tell me I shouldn’t drink or hang around with the wrong people?”
Jean shrugged. “No, I wasn’t going to say that.”
“Then what were you going to say?”
Jean smiled. “That I love you. That’s all. That I love you.”
Shelley stared at her. Suddenly, her eyes filled with tears. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I know everyone who tells me how bad I’ve been is right, but you’re the only one who seems to care about me.”
That night, Jean and Shelley prayed that they’d start looking out for each other and listen to each other in the future when they were tempted to do something that was wrong.
It’s not always easy to do, but love never fails to help others. It might not win the first battle or the second, but it will win the war.
John C. Maxwell and Mark Littleton, Leading as a Friend (Tommy Nelson, 2001)
Shelley didn’t need Jean to rub it in that she had made a mistake by staying out with those guys who obviously didn’t care about her; she needed to know that Jean truly cared about her. Once Jean showed Shelley that she really cared about her, Shelley was ready to let Jean help her. If Jean had come across in a proud or condemning manner, she probably would have lost Shelley’s friendship. But because she was loving and
caring toward Shelley at her low point, their friendship was not only saved, it was strengthened.