“I did all I could, for as long as I could.”
We have been feeding a stray cat, when he comes around, for several months now, and after many of those months staying a substantial distance from us, he now gets close enough to pet, but not quite. There is a great fear in him of people, and although he is torn up, losing hair and shows signs of a desperate life, I would guess he is no more than a couple years old. If he ever learns to trust us, we will take him to the veterinarian, and then give him a good home, but there may come a day when he just doesn’t show up anymore, and we need to be able to say, “I did all I could for as long as I was able.”
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) For as long as you are able to, or until either circumstances or the Lord moves you on to another task.
Along the path we walk we will meet these people, not just those that need help physically, but spiritually, and every time you do so you are honoring the Lord. “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41) Now, I personally do not think that counts when it comes to stray animals, but it’s a start, because if you cannot have compassion on a dumb animal, one that needs help no matter what the situation calls for, you will never know compassion for people.
Whether it be in financial ways, with your time, or your words, we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of compassion, and we are to show His love to others, and I do not know if you have noticed this or not, but most of the time that compassion is towards those you may not really care for that much, you just plain old do not like them. And many times, they may fit into the category of Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” and “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” (Romans 12:17)
It’s much easier when it is the kindly old lady from church who occasionally just needs a few things done around the house, it’s not so easy when it’s the town drunkard who broke down on the side of the road, or when its someone who has mocked you for serving the Lord. If you’re going to heap coals of fire on their head, you have to perform an act of compassion, of love.
For many men such as myself that goes against our very nature, the first response is to think, “Serves then right,” but we know that is not what we are supposed to be. We are to get along with everyone as best as we are able, and sometimes the best way to do that is just to avoid them at all cost, but sometimes that is not possible. The old nature in some of us wants to send them to the dentist for that appointment they didn’t think they would need when they visit us with evil, but if we react as the Lord wants us to, then the punishment that He will enact upon them, if He so chooses, when you see it will make us feel pity for them.
I don’t have to feed that mangy old cat, and I don’t have to be nice to people, but Jesus has asked me to do so, and the Almighty has decided that He wants me to be like His Son, so that is what I will do. Will I always do it with a feeling of love? Probably not, but that is not the love that He is asking us to express each time, the action of love overrides the emotion of love, but in time, with patience, we will learn to do both, and only for His glory.
There’s a lot of our mind that needs to be transformed, don’t expect everything to happen at once.