“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
II Corinthians 9:8-12 (ESV
Beth Ann blogged about the Aaronic blessing which we often hear at the end of the worship service, and I posted the hymn, “Sent Forth By God’s Blessing” which is a common recessional. It occurs to me that God blesses us during our weekly worship, not only because He loves us, but because He wants us to go out and extend that blessing to others. One church I visited had a sign as you exited the parking lot that read, “You are now entering the mission field.” How often do we think about this? Most of the time, church is over, and we simply slip back into our usual routines, without giving a thought to what God wants us to do next. We’re happy to have been inspired, uplifted and blessed, but we don’t make time to “pay it forward.”
There are probably a million ways to do this. We can just practice the fruits of the spirit by loving, being patient, kind and gentle in our interactions with others. We can be generous to those in need. We can invite somebody to church or Bible study. We can say “thanks” or “have a blessed day.” We can go down to the local mission and serve a meal. We can help an elderly neighbor or a young mother. We can give someone a hug.
The point is, God’s blessing isn’t just for you and me. We’re to receive it, and then give it away. There are many people out there who desperately need God. How can we pass the blessing on? I’d like to hear suggestions from other authors and readers.
This quote is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Book, “God Is In the Manger.” I’m planning to request it from our local library, so you may see a review later this month!
“Jesus stands at the door knocking (Rev. 3:20). In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us.”
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, …” Colossians 3:12
Well, the yesterday didn’t start out very well…I overslept (yes, even retired people can do this). My husband and I had to jump up and rush around so that he could get to his breakfast meeting with another Pastor, and I would be ready to drive our granddaughter to school. I didn’t have time for breakfast and when Katelyn arrived, she was being a typical Monday morning teenager; rolling her eyes, shrugging instead of answering my questions, looking generally bored and unhappy. When we started out the door, I wasn’t in a good mood.
Then something happened. We got to her school and pulled up to the drop off area. It was a gusty day and one of the male teachers on duty came right up to the passenger door. He opened it saying, “It’s windy, so I want to make sure your door doesn’t get away from you and is closed tightly” and then “Hello Katelyn, have you got everything?” He gave me a little wave. I hadn’t said a word, but his kind and helpful manner changed the way I was feeling. Instead of feeling irritable and grouchy because of my growling stomach, I felt happy and thankful to be noticed and treated helpfully and personally. It turned my day and my attitude around.
So my question is, why don’t we all do this more often? Why don’t we take the time to see the people around us as people and realize that our behavior may make or break their day? It doesn’t really take much effort to be courteous; to say thank you; to be patient when someone is struggling or new on the job; to address someone by their name if we know it or see it on a nametag; to offer help or hold a door or just say “have a blessed day.”
Did someone make your day today? Thank them and thank God.
O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
-Samuel F. Pugh
This prayer is a good reminder that giving thanks should not just be a passive exercise. It should spur us on to love and encourage others so that they will come to know and understand the grace of God.