The Cost of Loving
Yesterday, Habitat for Humanity held its Annual General Members Meeting at the Dusit Thani hotel in Makati. As many of you who follow my blog and activities know, I serve on the National Board of Trustees for Habitat for Humanity Philippines. I’m actually completing my 6th year next year or the end of my 2nd term with Habitat, which means, 2013 is my last year as a board member. It’s been a very very rewarding experience. How a 23 year old ended up on the board of such a respectable foundation is something I don’t understand as well, and I would like to thank Mr. Butch Bautista for introducing me to Habitat for Humanity (he was the former chairman), particularly for connecting me to Mr. Rene Valencia (former board member) and the late Mr. Burt Jugo (former president) who helped make my entry possible.
I would like to ask my readers to support me on my last year by becoming a member of Habitat for Humanity, joining our builds, and particularly joining me and thousands of other people who are committing to give at least P1000 a month to help build decent homes for those in need. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested so I can connect you to the people who can facilitate your participation.
I remember when I was first starting out with non-profit work, I was 21, didn’t have a lot of money, had practically no experience, and didn’t have any financial backups. A very successful businessman whom I respected told me, “Why are you getting so involved with non-profit work? That is what people do when they’re settled already, when they no longer need to worry about money. You should focus on business first so that you’ll have something to save the world with.”
Make sense doesn’t it?
Well, it depends. Depends on what? Depends on what you love. You might ask, “What’s love got to do with it?”
The answer is, EVERYTHING. What you love will dictate what you make important to you.
What is important to you will dictate your life’s choices.
If making money and achieving a comfortable existence were the most important things to me, spending my career, especially the start of my career, getting paid a low salary in a job with limited financial incentives doesn’t make any sense. It’s actually a dumb thing to do if the goal is to make as much money and to reach a point of comfort and security as soon as possible.
But these are not what are most important to me.
Money is very important, and frankly, I wish I had more, and comforts are great and fun, but they are not what wake me up or keep me up. What is important to me is to fulfil our universal calling from God to love one another despite our sins, despite our lack, despite our challenges, and despite whatever may be holding us back. This call is wonderfully encapsulated in the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
Those of you who follow my twitter account may remember a mini-message I shared one tweet after another on the points of the Good Samaritan. I have compiled them here for the convenience of those who want to read them:
Keep thinking about the story of The Good Samaritan. It woke me up and is distracting me now.
When the Samaritan found the suffering, he went to him, not away from him, and he bandaged his wounds, not exposed.
The Samaritan poured on the suffering oil and wine, the best of his anointing and love, not his left overs, not his worst.
The Samaritan put the suffering on “his own” donkey, took him to a safe place, cared for him at his own time, his effort, and his own cost.
The Samaritan didn’t act on obligation, he gave as much as he had to care for the suffering – and committed to return, give more
An expert in the law asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” – people are always looking for their minimum obligation
Jesus asked the expert two questions “What is written in the law?” and “How do you read it?” – how we understand the law is very critical.
The expert answered wisely and rightly, love God, love my neighbour. He was an expert after all. Yet he had one more question…
He wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, And who is my neighbour? – self-justification is always interested in minimum requirements.
What was Jesus’ response? He told a story set in the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a dangerous winding road people travel.
He used a cast of characters: a traveling victim, robbers, priests & levites, the Samaritan. – We, in our own journeys play these parts.
Who did Jesus highlight? The cunning robbers? The hapless victim? The wise, the men of position, the ceremonially clean? No.
The honour went to the man who broke cultural and religious lines, risked his own safety, and paid the price to show love: the Samaritan.
He was “the one who had mercy”. Not the one with the obligation, with the right, nor with the role. But the one who had mercy.
As we travel our own road, do we pity the robbed and beaten? Are we too busy robbing and beating? Are we too busy still being the victim?
Do we pass the other side? The other side is always safer, more practical, wiser, more convenient.
Or do we come near the suffering, do we risk ourselves, do we see them, are we so moved that we give them our best?
Do we love so much that it costs us? Or is the cost so great that we do not love?
Of the characters in the story, Jesus pointed at the Samaritan, “Go and do likewise”.
Don’t be a robber that steals and destroys others.
Don’t be someone who is too important, too respectable, too righteous, too special to be a servant, to risk your life for others, to love.
Instead, go near the suffering, see them, be moved by them, give them your best, as Christ loved you so great He gave everything to you.
The Tagalog word for love is the term “mahal”. Interestingly, this is also the same term used for the word “expensive”.
Love = Mahal, Expensive = Mahal
This leads to a simple play on words, “Mahal Magmhal” or “It is expensive to love.”
I think that the connection of “expensive” and “love” is so insightful because it captures the idea of value. We should love things of value, not necessarily monetarily expensive things, but things that are priceless, such as people. Not only that, it captures the idea of the cost, for love will cost us. The more we love the more it will cost us. As I said in an old post, Love only trades for love. Love means giving everything, and it only trades for everything.
A Simple Point. A Simple Question. A Simple Reminder
At the beginning of the Habitat meeting, I was asked to share a short devotion, and of course I had to talk about The Good Samaritan. It’s just been resonating so much in my heart.
I ended the short talk with a simple point, a simple question, and a simple reminder.
My simple point: Being good will cost You. The more good you want to do, the more cost you’ll have to pay. BUT IT IS WORTH IT.
My simple question: Do we love so much that we embrace the cost? Or is the cost so great that we do not love?
My simple reminder: We can pay the cost for others because Jesus paid the cost for us. We can draw freely from the love He has made available, that we may have love in us to pay for those in need.