I begin this post with an old inspiring and touching story from China. There was an old grandfather named Bai Fang Li. He was living in Tianjin, China. What is interesting thing from this old man? The most interesting thing from him is even though he was live in shortage, he had has very rich heart. Poverty was not being a reason for him to keep giving to others. He was called to give donations to schools and universities in Tianjin city to help more than 300 poor children in order to able obtain an education for their future. Many years he was pedaling his rickshaw to get money in order to increase amount of his contributions.
He lived in an old and rusty hut in a slum area of the city where many rickshaw operators and garbage collectors live and he also lived without thinking of his own needs so that he could give more and more. Two raisin cakes and fresh water became his lunch menu and just a piece of meat or an egg for dinner. Regardless of weather conditions he was always pedaling his rickshaw from 6 am to 8 pm. “it is okay I am suffered”, but let that poor children can go to school “he said. When he was 90 years old, he realized that he was no longer able to pedal his rickshaw. His last saving that amounted five hundreds Yuan donated all to a school. He said, “I could not to pedal a rickshaw again. I cannot give a donation anymore. It might be my last donation that I could give” It was makes all teachers in that school crying. Three years later grandpa Li passed away in poverty. Yet, behind his poverty, during his lifetime he has been contributed a total of three hundred and fifty thousand Yuan. He devoted his life fully to help poor children who could not afford to school. What an inspiring story, right?
Now, what is the message of the inspiring story for us as Christians? In the midst of the world which centered on self-interest, where the caring to others getting scarce, what was done by grandpa Li pointed out that there are still people who have a noble heart more than a gold in this world. He was still loves and care to others though he lived in poverty. I called it “A True Love”
Apostle Paul describes love so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Depiction of love in those verses so beautifully summarized by grandfather Li’s action. His contribution was not just limited by sympathy words but all real embodied through the sacrifices that he did for the sake of helping those children who did not have opportunity to get an education. I wonder, from the billions of people in this world, how many grandpa Li who care about each other and willing to sacrifice just for helping others? A poor man like grandpa Li wanted to do it, while many rich people just sat quietly does not have concern for the people around who really need help.
Holy Bible said, Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18) Grandpa Li did it so beautiful through the concrete action even in the midst of his poorness. He was not being a selfish or just thinking about himself but he even willing to sacrifice all-out until the last of his strength to help other. He also did all of that was not solely to seek popularity or honored by people. I think, for him have a decent life is more important than having popularity! Please remember he was just a very old rickshaw driver. He really had a sincerity and true love to helping each other.
Grandpa Li was gone but his devotion will continue to be remembered by millions people in this world. I am convinced despite physically he suffered, but his heart happy to be able to do something for others. He realized that it would be happier if can give rather than receive.
…‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Act 20:35)
After I read and ponder this inspiring story, I conclude that there are some important things that we could get from this inspiring story and I called it as the value of true love.
First, Initiative! True love has an initiative. This poor old man has initiative express his love by reaching out his hand to help others. It is same with God. God loves us not in a passive ways. He not just waiting us to love Him first but God directly reached out His hand to express His love to us with a very beautiful ways. John said,
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
Furthermore, Paul said,
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
The second, beside has an initiative, grandpa Li was active in order to could express his love to others by working tirelessly pedaling his rickshaw. He not expresses his love just by his words but also by action as it is written in 1 John 3:18.
Third, grandpa Li has a great caring to others interests. He realized that there are hundreds poor children need help and threatened could not school and get a proper education. God’s word reminds us to not merely attach great importance to our own need and interests, but also pay attention to others needs and interests.
Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:4)
Be emphasized again in 1 John 3:17,
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
Fourth, sacrifice! This is a thing that quite difficult to do. Jesus said,
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
Not only with words but directly Jesus proved to be willing to give his life for the mankind salvation by dying on the cross. And this is then followed by His disciples willing to sacrifice their life just for proclaim God’s word to all over the world. Not many people are willing to sacrifice to help others while he himself lives in hardship. This old poor man was doing this thing so beautiful. He was willing to sacrifice for the sake of helping others. He was willing to lived in the slums and eat potluck so he could save his money.
My dear readers, it is so easy we say that we have love. But the question is what kind of love? Are we having true love that has initiative? Whether we have an active love that accompanied with action? How big our concern to others interests? And are we willing to sacrifice to others? Whether in everyday life we have to apply the principles of love as God wants? This evening I would like to encourage you to learn from this inspiring story. Let the story of grandpa Li could be a model for us to express the true love to others. We may not like grandpa Li who really live in poverty, so let us have an initiative to give what we could give to helping each others who in need. Do not be discouraged and ashamed if not be able to give much as long as we give with sincerity. God does not look at how much that we can give but rather to look our sincerity, our willingness to sacrifice and truly based on true love. God really appreciate to those who are willing to sacrifices to give in the shortage.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)
Suppose that we could not help people in the form of matter, we can help others in another form such as giving a tender smile and a warm hug to our friends who are in grief, spend our time to giving encouragement to people who are discouraged, or put them in our prayer list, and maybe just do very simple daily things such as say “hello” and asking “how are you. Are you okay?” It all will give a big impact to others. Let’s pray to God ask for the strength, wisdom and have a sensitive heart to the others difficulties so we always could express our true love to others. Let us pray that true love remain thrives in our lives and keep it warm because we live in the world where wickedness is increased. As Jesus reminds us, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12) and let us could be a window for those people around us to know and experience God’s love through our true love. Amen.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (I John 4: 7-8)
Karina – Living by Faith
For the detailed story and photos of Bai Fang Li click here
I wish to thank you to Paul Militaru for the awesome and beautiful picture
Photo by Paul Militaru http://photopaulm.com