Giving is an attitude. It is a way of life. Some people are givers-others takers-and some are keepers. Whether we give of our money, time, talents, or love, as Jesus reminds us, "Give and it will be given to you." And I think I could safely say, "Take and the most valuable things of life will be taken from you."
A four-hundred-year-old tree crashed to the forest floor. Over the centuries it had been struck by lightning fourteen times, braved great windstorms, and even defied an earthquake. In the end, however, it was killed by little beetles. Boring under the bark, they chewed away its mighty fibers until the giant of the forest lay broken on the ground.2
In other words Jesus developed intellectually, physically, spiritually and emotionally; that is, he grew to become a whole, healthy and well person. God's goal, I believe, is for you and me to do the same.
"Do you want to be made well?"1
One medical doctor I read about claims that, of all the patients who come to him saying they need help, approximately 25 percent don't want to get well at all. Others just want sympathy.
I have taught in workshops in the area of divorce recovery for a number of years. In my experience a large percentage of the divorced people I've worked with primarily blame their partner for the breakup of their marriage.
"Dear God, please deliver me from the sin of denial and confront me with the reality of what I am contributing to every conflict in which I find myself-whether it is at work, home, or with a friend or loved one. Help me to take full responsibility for my feelings, actions, and overreactions-and stop justifying myself when I am overreacting. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
Have you ever had one of those days when you had a very important phone call to make and you received a "voice mail" machine answer that after a brief recorded message you were put on hold ... then you got the run around ... put back on hold ... seemingly ad infinitum until you got a real live person to talk to? I'm sure you have. I did this morning.
"Jesus told him, 'Stand up, roll up your sleeping mat and go on home!' Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking! But it was on the Sabbath when this miracle was done. So the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, 'You can't work on the Sabbath! It's illegal to carry that sleeping mat!'"1
The story is told about the old-time circuit-riding preacher who was visited by three men. They came to confess to him that twenty years before they had loaded his horse and buggy with a load of heavy rocks and hidden them so he wouldn't see them. They wanted to apologize because they still felt guilty about it for all these years. To which the preacher replied, "You have carried these rocks for twenty years. I only carried them for a day."
We know that we need to forgive all who have hurt or offended us, but are we to be reconciled to them? Wherever possible this ought to be our goal, but it isn't always possible as reconciliation is dependent on both parties.
"If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically."1
Years ago Walter took his friend Arthur to see some land in open country where cattle were idly grazing. Walter explained about his dream for developing this area. He told his friend that in time the area would be surrounded by many restaurants, hotels and convention centers. He told Arthur that his plan would take all of his money and he needed others to develop the surrounding area. He wanted his friend to have the first opportunity to buy into this project.
It is reported that former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George was once introduced by a chairman who jokingly said, "I had expected to find Mr. Lloyd George a big man in every sense, but you see for yourselves he is quite small in stature."
The honest ones. They were the only ones he could help. As The Living Bible puts today's text, "A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance."
"Be eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples."1
Some time ago at a church where I was a deacon we had one man in particular who claimed to have several spiritual gifts. When the deacon board was seeking an answer for a significant situation, our friend informed us that he had a word from God and said, "God told me it was to be such and such."