Points to Ponder: Tired of Being Nice?
Points to Ponder
Tired of Being Nice?
I could see him coming up the walkway toward our church's glass door. He was a tall, large-framed man. I thought to myself, "Here we go again." I walked back into my office for a momentary reprieve, until the office manager came to let me know someone was "here to see the pastor." Those words so often preceded a request for money, that I was already expecting it.
Some people do have legitimate needs. Many acquire those needs through poor decisions and irresponsible lifestyle choices. We have given thousands of dollars and hundreds of pounds of food to many people. So often the effort and expense seems wasted as we see many of these people squander the opportunities and resources we have provided them. It is discouraging. Needless to say, it becomes easy to pass judgment.
I often remind myself of how Jesus encountered ten lepers along the road. Having answered their request for healing, only one returned to thank Him. That percentage of success, 1 out of 10, is about right even now. Perhaps that is why the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to record it (Luke 17:11-19). If being helped and restored by Jesus Christ Himself does not prompt thankfulness in the heart of people, what more can we expect today? God requires faithfulness, not success. We plant and water, but God brings the harvest (I Cor.3:6).
So here comes the big man. I'm ready to hear the story of his predicament and the amount of money he needs. As we sat down, he hung his head and I asked how I could help. He looked up with tired eyes and said, "I just need someone to pray with me." And that was truly what he wanted.
So, after I recovered from realizing what a jerk I had been, I pulled out my Bible and we let God's word speak to his situation. We spent a half-hour together talking, reading scripture, and then praying. He walked out without the burden he had been carrying.
Then I settled back into my chair and apologized to God for losing my focus. It is so easy to forget that we are the vessels through whom God reaches all kinds of people. Whether they are receptive or make wise use of what we provide is not our concern. We are the stewards, not the owners. We are called to be faithful and obedient, not successful. Even a "thank you" is not an entitlement for the servant of God. It is extra credit. A gift.
Paul reminds us: Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:2-3 NKJV)
The law of Christ is to love your neighbor as yourself. And since that love is measured in proportion to how we value our own selves, we look at our downtrodden neighbor and remember the old adage, "there but for the grace of God go I."
We are imperfect sinful persons. Some of us hide it a little better than others; but Jesus knows and He chose to love us anyway. How often have we ourselves received His blessings and failed to offer thanks? Isn't it good that He is longsuffering toward us? He puts up with a lot from us. I'm glad.
He has not gotten the jaded attitude toward me which I often have toward others. Paul goes on to remind us further: "and let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10 NKJV)
This man I mentioned is a believer. He had fallen away for quite sometime. But the Holy Spirit had been nudging him, convicting him, and finally compelled him to seek restoration at the place I happened to be. How easily I could have thwarted God's extended effort in that man's heart had I not quickly recognized and repented of my attitude.
Yes we can cite numerous times when our generosity was taken by a scam. We can tell "war stories" of the many who have lied, cheated, or simply blew away countless amounts of our resources. But the resources were never ours to begin with; we are simply vessels through whom the Lord works. (If we let Him.)
It is helpful to remember this truth when you wonder if you loved too much or gave too liberally.
"He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given." (Proverbs 19:17 NKJV)
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