I don’t know if anybody has noticed, but we have a big holiday coming up soon. Some people call it the best one of the entire year. It’s the one that’s been tampered with the least.
Thanksgiving… just the sound of it brings warm feelings to most hearts. It gives its purpose in its title… the giving of thanks, gratitude, counting one’s blessings. I’ve heard it suggested that this should be such a natural occurrence for us that instead of setting aside a day each year to give thanks we should set aside this day to let out all of our gripes and complaints. We could call it National Gripe Day, or something like that. But, no, we’d rather voice our complaints on a daily basis.
I plan on sending out a couple of posts about this celebration. Today I want to focus on the last part of the title: giving. Most of us look past this sentiment on this holiday, that’s what Christmas is for. It’s never a bad time to set our attention on this important relationship quality.
There are many ways to give. The first thing that comes to mind for most people is giving money. Following any natural disaster the donations spike at all charitable organizations. Some new ones usually crop up to scam people out of their money to take advantage of this heart-softening time.
Giving of our time is an important philosophy to consider. Last Saturday I spent the day volunteering at a Habitat For Humanity project in our community. Today my wife, Barb, is helping to fill boxes with donated food items at our church to be given to needy families. It should be natural for us to give our time to our family, but too many of us are lured into using what little time we have in advancing our careers.
Donating things to thrift stores is another way to give. The organization supporting the store sells the items at a reduced price to usually poorer people who can’t afford to pay full price for that same item new. It’s a kind of double gift that way.
Speaking of donating, I make it a habit of donating my blood on a fairly regular basis (I should be getting an email reminder that I’m eligible to give again any day now). The demand is always higher than the supply. So, please consider this if you haven’t given in a while. I’ve tried to get on the bone marrow donation list but haven’t been able to track down the right source for this opportunity.
Another avenue for saving a life is being put on the organ donor list. Many states have ways to set up this opportunity when you renew your driver’s license. You can inform your closest family members that in the event of your being in an accident that you don’t survive your body organs can be used to replace failing organs in less fortunate people. Their family members will be eternally grateful.
Many people give of their talents at church. Choirs are filled with volunteers, as are most Sunday School teaching positions. Musical instruments are frequently operated by an unpaid person. Let me know of anything that you know of that I haven’t mentioned.
So what does Jesus want us to give? The parable in the middle of Matthew 25 talks about talents in the sense of money, but we easily translate that into our personal abilities. That’s why there are so many volunteers at church. Anybody I know of who loves the movie “Chariots of Fire” has the same favorite line. There’s a scene where Eric Lyddle’s sister is trying to talk him out of running in the Olympics so he can return to the mission field to continue their family’s calling. He responds to her from his heart when he explains that when he runs he “feels the pleasure of God.” When you discover God’s calling for your life you know exactly what he’s talking about.
Seek God’s guidance in this area as you pray. Try different things until you find that thing that gives you the sense of God’s pleasure in your life. Perhaps there’s a certain age group that you can teach better than any other. Stay there and build that ability. If others have encouraged you to sing a solo at church because of your talent there then step out in faith and give your talent to build God’s people up there. It will probably put you out of your comfort zone at first, but when God is doing the stretching He won’t give you more than you can handle.
In the last 5 verses of Luke 10 we’re introduced to two sisters. Martha is the oldest in the family (she probably inherited the house when their parents died), Mary is next in line (she made some poor life choices because of the family dysfunction until Jesus transformed her spirit), John later tells us about their little brother’s dramatic comeback in his Gospel (he will probably inherit the house when he’s of age).
Martha is the ultimate hostess, she offers the house to Jesus and His followers, complete with a meal. I mean who wouldn’t want the long-awaited Messiah in their own house? Maybe she’ll get some cushy position when His Kingdon is set up soon. She looks around for some help only to find her dear sister sitting at Jesus’ feet hanging on His every word.
So, which sister did Jesus praise in that situation? Was it the one who was giving her best in the kitchen (not that He shouldn’t get our best, He definitely should)? Or the one who was just sitting? To find what Jesus is looking for we need to go to the first 4 verses in Luke 21. Here a widow woman is putting the two smallest coins available at that time into the temple treasury. Jesus points out that she is putting in all that she has.
Did you catch the three-letter word answer that Jesus is looking for? He wants our ALL.
I’ll see you later. Wade