November has begun and social media is already filled with blog posts, hashtags, reminders, and challenges of thankfulness. Please understand… I AM NOT minimizing the importance of any of that. Being thankful is a good thing, and I completely agree that when we take some time to be grateful each day, we improve our chances of feeling better emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically.
I also believe that when we’re looking for reasons to be thankful, we will find reasons to be thankful… and when we’re thankful, we’re content… and when we’re content, we spend less time thinking of what else we need, and when we spend less time thinking of what else we need, we can spend more time ENJOYING LIFE, and when we’re spending more time enjoying life, we will find reasons to be thankful… (How’s that for full circle?)
I take no issue with “feeling good”… and I truly believe that gratefulness changes our view on life, however… we might be missing something even bigger…
We’re living in a world that replaces things that are still working. We give away what we don’t want anymore and call it charitable. We’ve become accustomed to our overindulgent desires and have convinced ourselves we just “can’t afford to” give when (if we were honest) what we really mean is there’s still something we need (or we’re paying off a credit card because we already bought it). We justify our selfishness by calling it being “frugal”… and then, when we wanna bring God into it, we excuse ourselves from being generous because we’ve chosen to be “good stewards with what God’s blessed us with”… as if Jesus ever held back a blessing when the opportunity presented itself.
If every Christian lived out the belief that they couldn’t out give God, our world would look totally different.
Christ FOLLOWERS are supposed to look noticeably different from the rest of the world… but not because they’re frugal (stingy) or careful (judgemental). Christians are supposed to STAND OUT because of how they love anyone, accept anyone, choose mercy over anger, freely forgive, and are irrationally and ridiculously generous. Notice how what I’ve mentioned are all actions?
Is it possible that we are more in love with the idea of following Jesus than actually following Jesus? ~Eugene Cho
Christ FOLLOWERS should STAND OUT in the world because they believe in an all-powerful, life-changing, ever-present, all-knowing, graciously giving God who wants EVERYONE to not just know OF Him, but to know Him through the actions of His followers. And, because they believe that… everything they do SHOWS it. That is the journey… that is the challenge… every day. But, if the very people who say they believe in a generous God aren’t generous… then how has the gospel been represented?… and, what if… by holding back giving more (out of fear), Christians actually cut themselves off from the deepest part of knowing who God is?…
HE GAVE FIRST…
God gave His only son because of His love for each and every single person… every… single… one. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
I thank God, He didn’t decide His gift was just too much… too crazy… or too extreme to give to someone as unworthy as me… that He doesn’t judge the amount of my gift based on what I deserve… and that He doesn’t withhold His very best from me in my very worst moments.
YOU CAN’T OUT GIVE GOD…
Jesus didn’t follow what everyone else was doing. He didn’t live a life that was mediocre or complacent. Some would say He was a rebel… and you better believe He was a revolutionary. He stirred the pot of “normalcy” with questions that stirred the hearts of the people… and Christ FOLLOWERS are supposed to follow HIS example.
Christ FOLLOWERS should represent the very heart of who HE was… not by what we say we are, but what we look like every moment of every day. Our lives should stand out and make a difference in the lives of everyone around us. And if we’re gonna reach people that no one else is (regardless of color, money, or status) then we’re gonna need to do what others aren’t willing to do. Living out the gospel is never about who needs our help… but instead, how outrageously we will give.
Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.” Proverbs 3:27-28
You don’t have to look for someone to help. People in need of something to be thankful for are everywhere, and we’re fooling ourselves if we know best on who they are. Brokenness, pain, loneliness, doubt, fear, indifference, anger, and hopelessness are conditions of the heart, and it’s unseen and held in the depth of our soul. It affects those with a full bank account as easily as those on the street. It affects every color… every lifestyle… every belief system… every age… and every… single… person… alive.
A world without God cannot wait for us to choose the safe path. If we wait for someone else to take the risk, we risk that no one will ever act and that nothing will ever be accomplished. ~ Pastor Erwin McManus
Wanting the world to change will never make the change happen… but choosing to be someONE who will step out and DO SOMETHING to make it better, WILL. You have no idea the amount of lives that could change forever because you decided to quit being thankful for the things you should already be thankful for, and did something to make someone else thankful…
- Imagine what might happen if you walked around doing things that were so generous that people thought you were absolutely nuts…
- Imagine what might happen if you did things on a daily basis that made people wonder why you are so kind…
- Imagine what might happen if you crazy enough to be intentional about giving and be the reason 4 someone 2 be thankful…
BE THE REASON
What could happen if you did things to give people a reason to be thankful… and by giving people a reason to be thankful, you demonstrated extreme generosity… and through your extreme generosity you gave people hope… and those people that had hope wanted to spread hope to others… and in spreading to hope to others, they started looking for ways to give others a reason to be thankful too? (Sounds like a freakin’ awesome circle I wanna be a part of!)
Jesus touched the lives of everyone He came into contact with, but He sought out the lives of those who weren’t socially acceptable to even be seen with… lepers, women, tax collectors, drunks, and the uneducated were never far from where Jesus was, and His love, acceptance, forgiveness, mercy, and generosity were nonnegotiable in a judgemental, broken, and hurting world.
There is brokenness everywhere. We don’t need more people debating its brokenness or choosing which broken side to be on… we need more people willing to heal it. What will YOU do to heal our world? It’s a big task… but if you’re willing, it will come to you… one person at a time.
Black Friday will soon be upon us, followed by Cyber Monday. Take the opportunity to be the reason 4 someone 2 be thankful while you shop this holiday season. Choose to not buy one thing for yourself so you can buy something for someone else. Instead of being “frugal”, give something better to someone else than you would even buy for yourself? Give like we would like to receive.
Think of ways you can be extreme in your giving for the next 8 weeks. Write them down… and take the steps to put those words into action. Ask God to bring you people and be ready for the opportunities as they come up. Some ideas could be:
- leaving your server $100 tip (regardless of whether they were good or bad)
- giving $100 to your mailman, UPS/Fedex driver, hair stylist, children’s teacher, or guy/gal at the checkout at the grocery store
- making cookies and giving them to your trash or recycling collector with a note saying “thank you”
- take a cup of hot chocolate to someone ringing the bell for charity
- saying “thank you” to someone working and handing them a $50 gift certificate
- paying for the meal/coffee ahead or behind you in line
- buying someone laundry soap at the laundromat and a pop while they wait
Instead of focusing on what you’ve already been given… think of things you can do for others that would give THEM a reason to be thankful. Who knows?… you might just make it a way of life. Mark your calendar now for days you can make a difference…
- World Kindness Day… November 13th
- Random Acts of Kindness Day… February 17th
- Good Samaritan Day… March 13th