Postmordem Mercies

by Jan Silvious

Consider these words by an unknown author:

"Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up, until your friends and family are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them. The kind things you mean to say when they are gone, say them before they go. The flowers you mean to send-use to brighten and sweeten their homes before they leave them.

"If my friends and family have alabaster boxes laid away, full of fragrant perfumes of sympathy and affection, I would rather they would bring them out in my weary and troubled hours and open them, that I may be refreshed and cheered when I need them. Let us learn to anoint our loved ones beforehand. Postmortem kindnesses do not cheer the burdened spirit. Flowers cast no fragrance backward over the weary way."*

The time for kind words and deeds ceases at death. How sad that we don't take advantage of every opportunity to show and tell our loved ones, while they are living, just how much they are loved!

When the teen-aged son of one of my closest friends was tragically killed, I held her close and whispered, "He always knew he was loved." Jamie was the kind of kid who was easy to have around, who freely gave love and openly received it. His mother and dad were comforted that night, knowing that from the first moment they held their son in their arms, that boy had known their love. They had no regrets for loving words left unsaid or kind deeds undone.

Love that is expressed is a love that will more readily be received. I've talked to scores of people who confess, "I just can't say I love you' to my children, my husband, my wife. I'm just not used to that kind of emotional display." I want to shake them and say, "Oh, my friend, someday it could be too late! Standing by a casket and saying, I love you' to ears that have been closed by death could be the greatest regret of your life!"

The inability to express love may be rooted in the deep soil of hurt and misunderstanding in the past. If you failed to receive love as a child, it will be difficult for you to express it now. Or your silence and lack of demonstration may be a way of telling your mate or child, "You've hurt me. Therefore, you don't deserve my love." Whatever the case, this kind of indifference blocks the kind of loving expression Christians are expected to model.

The Scriptures tell us that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). He did not withhold His love because we had hurt Him. Every day since that awful day at Calvary, God has said, "I love you" to millions of people who could care less. But that has never kept Him from saying it. When time is ended and the tragic consequences of disbelief become evident as some are banished from the presence of God forever, He will still be saying, "I love you."

Neither you nor I will ever have God's full capacity for love, but we can cultivate love for others through doing and saying those things that will bless them. Let's take out our "alabaster boxes" and anoint our loved ones with sympathy and affection, kindness, and mercy while there is still time!

From The 5-Minute Devotional, ©Zondervan, 1991

*Found in Poems That Touch the Heart, A. L. Alexander, Doubleday, 1941.


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