Last week the unexpected death of a long-time friend of our family reminded me again how quickly opportunities to do something for others can be taken away from us.

Some years ago Garth Brooks had a song that asked a question: If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her? That song comes to mind quite often, each time bringing a particular person to mind. There are only two real answers to that question: Yes or no.

Yes, people will know if I loved them only if I showed them that I loved them. If people who are important to me don’t know that I love them, it is because I fail to show them that love. It’s really up to me.

Sometimes it is hard to find the words to tell someone that you love them, because there are so many different ways to love a person. The love we have for our parents is undoubtedly different than the love we have for our sweetheart. The love we have for our sweetheart is different than we have for a cherished pet. And the love that we have for that pet is different than the love we have for our best friend.

A long time ago when I was reading in the New Testament, I came across I John 3:18: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. A modern translation of that verse says “Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.”

As I read those words I felt that the Apostle John – and more importantly, the Lord – was speaking directly to me. I can say I love people every day. But if I don’t show them that love in some way, my words are in vain.

Since then I have tried very hard to make that command from the Lord a way of life.

Showing our love for someone doesn’t mean we have to go out and buy expensive gifts every time we turn around. Just the opposite is true, because often it is the smallest, cheapest (for lack of a better word!) gifts that mean the most and are treasured for the longest time.

Two of my best friends are older ladies, one living in a personal care facility and the other in her own home. Do you know what they think is the greatest gift? A little bit of someone’s time. Both say they get very lonely, and often wish they had someone just to sit and talk to, even for a short time. But the world has made us so busy that the price for giving a little bit of our time often is just too much to pay.

Phone calls don’t cost much, and they can be as long or as short as we want them to be. But a phone call lets someone know that we were thinking of them and were willing to share a few minutes of our time with them.

Cards, whether for a special occasion or no special reason, are an easy way to let someone know you care. For as little as a dollar you can get a nice little card (and the stamp!) and they usually have plenty of room to add a personal note.

Making a trip to the grocery store for someone who can’t drive, sharing a meal with a shut-in, visiting someone in the hospital, sending flowers to celebrate a birthday or share in sorrow . . . the list of how we can show others that we care is endless.

Many times I have heard people say “I meant to . . .” show someone that they cared, but they just never got around to it. And then it was too late.

If there is someone in your life that needs to know they are loved, why not show them? Now would be a good time to start.

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Thought for the week — It is in giving that we receive. (Francis of Assisi)

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