I have to admit I’m offended by superlatives. Sometimes. Always. Never. Every. Best. Most. Perhaps I’m jaded because my classmates in high school never nominated me to be “the most likely” to be anything. In my youth, it bothered me to hear such flimsily founded claims. Even though I resist the whole idea of superlatives relating to people, I find that I offend and say things like:,“You never pick up your…” or “You always forget to…”.
Even though I know that no one is ever always, the most, or never the all the time, it can seem true.
The idea of being “all in” has a noble ring to the ear. If you are a poker player, you know this phrase. “All in” means you are willing to bet everything on a hand. In other words, you are completely committed. “Give it your all!” is a common challenge to those commissioned with a worthy task. School. Work. Relationships. Civic responsibility. Give your all.
Pierce Manufacturing makes fire trucks and recently they launched a campaign, “Give Your All,” that celebrates the first responder’s first and basic commandment of the calling: “Give your all.” If you have been in the middle of traumatic moments, you recognize that first responders personify this ideal of “all.”
Our culture today tends to value discretion, balance, and moderation, but there are times to be extreme. Perhaps the greatest virtue of all is the wisdom to know when to be one or the other — to be careful, or to go “all in.”
The Wise man of the Bible notes, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). For those who think the rock band The Byrds in 1965 is the source of that bit of wisdom, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). There is a voice that calls humanity to move from moderation to giving your all; it is the way to love God:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) It is also reiterated in the New Testament for good measure.
Since it can be difficult to witness that superlative type of love for God, because it is often so personal and even private, the second part offered by Jesus makes plain an additional facet, saying , “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 23:39)
Books, movies, social media and even commercials on TV have mastered promotion of the greatest, best, and most memorable scenes where people love others well.
When we see glimpses of “all in” love, without restraint love, it truly is most inspiring.
The best examples of great love are not conveyed by balance, but by outrageous acts. I’m not trying to be overly sappy, but admitting that the enemy of love is likely apathy. Perhaps the greatest superlatives today are not romantic or mushy, but remarkable acts happening in the ordinary stuff of life — much like the blossoms of trees or flowers in springtime. What superlatives have I seen recently?
A high school student who chooses integrity when it would have been easy to cheat.
A nurse goes the extra mile to ease the suffering of a family by offering more than medical treatment, but encouragement, kindness, and compassion.
The mechanic who informs an anxious customer that the problem with the car is just a disconnected clip — no charge!
A police officer who takes a bit of time to shoot baskets with kids on a playground.
As spring emerges around us, I’ll be looking out for the greatest, the best-of-all-time moments where people are giving their all. I invite you to join me!
Troy Fitzgerald is the pastor at the Wenatchee Seventh-day Adventist Church.
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