I want to tell you a story about a man who had grown into middle age without ever hearing another man tell him he loved him. This man, like many, had worked hard all his life, but it never seemed to be enough. When he was young he was the first in his class to read, but his father just told him to read more. When he was in upper elementary he scored all “A’s” on his report card, and his father just told him to try for “A+’s”. In high school he worked hard enough to graduate as valedictorian. But his father just reminded him that high school is not college. In college, he worked hard to earn his undergraduate degree in 3 years. He then went on to do his graduate work at one of the most prestigious institutions in the country. And from there did his doctoral work in languages, becoming one of the youngest professors at a well-known seminary in the southern United States. All the while, he never heard his father praise him or even acknowledge the hard work he had done.
Some years later this man had won an award at his university and while on the stage receiving his award, another man walked up to him, hugged him and told him he loved him and that he was proud of him. The man on the stage froze. No, it wasn’t his father, nor a family member, nor even his closest friend… it was a Christian brother. The Christian brother recalled how later that same day, while at his desk in his office, he received a hand-written note from this man who had received the award. It read in part, “today was the first day in my life that another man told me that he loved me or that he was proud of me. I had planned on ending my life after the ceremony. Knowing that if I could not earn my father’s love in life, that perhaps I would find his acceptance in my death. But you, with your words have given me hope and strength for tomorrow. Thank you for your kindness.” It was signed and a little gift card left saying they should do coffee sometime. The Christian brother was not trying to move mountains, or change the world, he was simply stating that he loved his fellow faculty member and that he was proud of his accomplishment.
Jesus, the night He was betrayed, sat in a room having supper with His disciples. And after the meal He took off His cloak, wrapped a towel around His waist and washed His disciple’s feet. Some complained and others argued, but Jesus was simply giving them an example of His love for them. At the end of chapter 13 of the book of John Jesus said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another".
We may think that our words of affirmation and appreciation are trivial. That somehow what we have to say to one another does not matter. But remember that everyone needs to hear that they are loved. By you telling another person that they are loved you affirm their importance. By telling others that you appreciate them, you encourage and strengthen the weak. You bring joy to sorrowful. You bring hope to the hopeless. Take the time today to tell someone in your life just how much they mean to you. Jesus commanded us to love one to another. And besides, you never know when your words of love may change a life forever.