“Giving should never be about us. We give only because of what our generous God has so lavishly given us. As we give quietly and generously, we reflect who He is – and God receives the thanksgiving only He deserves.” ~Monica Brands
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
~ Maya Angelou
Scripture for Reflection: II Corinthians 9:6-15
“Lord God, You are the source of all that we have. May we share what we receive, that You may be glorified.” ~Our Daily Bread
Yielding for Grace
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36 )
As I continue focusing on “GRACE”, I recognize this endeavor as both a challenge and a gift. Even though I want to think it’s getting easier for me to see God’s grace at work in my life, I’ve actually started to notice the times I need to extend grace to others and to keep an open heart for grace to take a deeper root in my own life.
I really desire to have a character that reflects God’s love and mercy, and as I pray to be the woman that God wants me to be, I’m realizing I have a lot of “self” to surrender.
I’m also learning that my chronic illness will not get me out of the lessons that God is teaching me. And, I know that I shouldn’t be shocked at this realization.
My latest lesson occurred on a day when I was coming out of a flare that had left me with extreme fatigue and pain in most of the joints in my body.
My husband volunteered to drive me to an appointment, but at the last minute another family member also asked him for a ride. This person’s destination was in the exact opposite direction of the location I needed to go.
Immediately I felt frustrated.
My husband, ever the diplomat, told me that he could take both of us. He gave me the choice to either ride with him or wait for him to come back and get me. He’s been this way since we met thirty-two years ago, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he found a way to accommodate both of us.
I blamed the building anger, discouragement, and anxiety on my health, especially my negative attitude and thoughts – “I should be first! My needs met before anybody else’s!”
As I think about that situation, I see how much I resembled my children when they were little and in the midst of temper tantrums.
I’m thankful that I didn’t voice my selfish thoughts and that I listened to the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit – “Humility. Grace. Compassion. Where are they?”
Passages of scripture threaded their way through my mind and caused me to back down and repent, seeking the very mercy from God that I was having trouble extending to our family member (Matthew 5:42; Luke 10:30-37; Galatians 5:13-14; Galatians 6:9-10; I Timothy 6:18-19).
I told my husband, “Go ahead and take them. I’ll wait until you get back.”
“Thank you for understanding,” he said.
When he left, I thanked God for my husband and for his kind heart. He has always been a generous man and never complains when he’s called upon to help family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers. He gives like today’s passage describes – generously and without thought of receiving anything back.
I sat down with a cup of tea and my Bible and asked God to speak to my heart and help me.
I’m ashamed that I believed my health should come first; that just because I was having a hard day I needed special consideration; that my husband should ignore the request for help and cater to me.
That is NOT what Jesus modeled or taught.
As I considered my actions and thoughts, I surrendered my desire to be first to the Lord and asked for the strength and courage to face each day as it unfolded, without demanding that my concerns take priority first.
And then, I read this prayer and quote:
“Lord, thank You that You do not grow weary. Give me strength to face whatever situation I am in today.” – David McCasland
“When life’s struggles make you weary, find strength in the Lord.” – David McCasland
It seemed like God was giving me a gentle reminder to keep my focus on Him and to trust Him to take care of everything that concerns me.
This episode has taught me that grace will often include surrender, generosity, and compassion.
Prayer: Father, forgive us for the times we fall short. Help us remember that we are here to serve and not to be served. No matter what is going on in our personal lives, when You give us the opportunity to assist others, please allow us to see it for what it is and give us the strength to magnify and glorify You through it. In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.