Mary Martin, star of the Broadway version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, was about to go on stage one night, as she had a thousand times before, when a note was handed to her. The note was signed by Oscar Hammerstein, who was on his death-bed. The note was short. It simply said: ‘Dear Mary, A bell’s not a bell until you ring it. A song’s not a song until you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away’.
When the performance was over the cast literally rushed her backstage to congratulate her. She was always a superb performer, but they had never seen her sing or act as she had that night. So, Mary read them Hammerstein’s note and said, “Tonight, I gave my love away”.
Jesus didn’t beat about the bush and offer some vague suggestions about love. He actually commanded us to love on another. To ensure we really understood the message He demonstrated what that love is like by dying on the cross, bearing our sin and shame and suffering in our place – because He loved us first.
No matter how rich or poor we are, where we’re from, our qualifications (or lack of them), or our age and social standing, we all have love that’s available to be given away. How do we give it away? By a kind word, a loving gesture, a hug, a smile, a note or letter, a helping hand, being there for someone in need, sitting with someone who has suffered loss. The list goes on and on.
I wonder if you’ve ever been given a gift that seemed inappropriate, or just odd. I have recently. It was a blue fluffy penguin! Lovely for a baby or young child, but for a sixty-five-year old man it was a bit odd. I know it was done with the best of intentions, but sometimes the gifts we give and receive may seem out of place, or not at the right time. That never applies to love. It’s always appropriate. It’s always at a good time. It always fits. In fact, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13 says that ‘love never fails’.
Let me bring you back to the note from Oscar Hammerstein. He was spot on when he wrote, ‘Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away’. Love in our heart was put there by Jesus. It’s a gift of God, and yes, some people are able to feel it, and access it more easily than others. But, we all have the capacity for it, and it isn’t activated until it’s given away.
Until then it’s a nice warm feeling, a good intention, a comforting thought, but it achieves nothing outside of us until it’s activated. Giving it away triggers that activation process, and its effects can be incredibly far reaching. Today choose to activate the love within you by giving it away. Find different ways to show that love to others, and watch the results, as you cause that love to ripple out to others.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your love that I feel in my life, the love You gave for me and demonstrated so powerfully on the cross. I know I’m not intended to sit on it, but rather to give it away, to create a chain reaction daily in other people’s lives as I give away, in a multitude of ways, the love You’ve poured out on me. In so doing, I don’t just bless others, but bless myself, and bring praise and honour to the One who gave it to me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
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