True story? No clue. Good story? Definitely…
Several years ago a preacher moved to Christchurch, New Zealand. Some weeks after he arrived, he had occasion to ride the bus from his home into the city. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a dollar too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “You better give the dollar back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget it, it’s only a dollar. Who would worry about this amount? Anyway the bus company already gets enough; they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from God and keep quiet.” When his stop came, he paused at the door, then he handed the dollar to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.” The driver with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher just arrived in the city? I have been thinking lately about going to worship somewhere. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change.” When he stepped off the bus, he grabbed the nearest power pole, held on and said, “Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a dollar.” Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. —Author Unknown
As Jesus’ followers, what we do says who He is; what we say becomes His voice. Be kind and love. You just never know…
Little things aren’t so small in a war…
“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the Enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.” —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Small things go further than we know. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Small act, huge effect.
Plant the seeds of victory. Ruin the Enemy’s day.
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel made a profound observation…
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference… To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”
Jesus was never indifferent. He loved and things happened. Then He told His followers, “Love each another just as I have loved you.”
“…just as I have loved you.”
We call them “Gifts of the Spirit”, and every follower of Jesus has at least one given to them by Him. But the gift He handed us isn’t for us. Read the tag—it has someone else’s name on it, and Jesus expects us to deliver it. The Apostle Paul said,
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6–8)
Gifts given to us to give to others—that’s what glorifies Jesus in this me-world. My hand can scratch an itch anywhere on my body—it can put food in my mouth and comb what’s left of my hair, but it can’t even trim its own nails. That’s us, and when given away, every gift points to the goodness of Jesus. We’re just the delivery guys. Better than UPS.
Read the tag and go make someone’s day.
One of my great discoveries in life was when I spent my day making life better for someone else, it was always a good day—and when I spent my day trying to make life better for me, I went to bed wondering if I’d really accomplished anything valuable at all. We were made for God, and it seems He made us for others.
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray,
My prayer shall be for others.
Help me in all the things I do,
To ever be sincerely true,
And know that all I do for you
Must needs be done for others.
Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this, my motto be;
Help me to live for others,
That I might live for thee.
Discover a great day.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
“Love your enemy…”
“Do good to those who hate you…”
“Love one another as I have loved you.”
“If you Love Me, you will obey what I command.”
There’s your day. And the rest of your life.
A dear friend, Ken Needham, recently suffered a heart aliment and cancer—at the same time. He’s fine now (bless the Lord) and he received a brilliant insight during his time in hospital…
“…While the surgeons and most of the nursing staff were excellent, there were a couple of exceptions, people who had some knowledge and experience who “knew what was best for me” but were not listening to me. It is MY body. I have inhabited it all my life and I know it well. Their intentions were no doubt good, but listening to them worsened rather than improved the situation. This started me thinking about the Body of Christ, the church. There are those who “know what to do”. They are trained, they have experience, but they are not listening to Him, and we are His body. Are you listening to Jesus? Do you know His will? Are you going to be part of what He is doing as we enter each new day, or are you coasting along thinking that you are in charge and know what to do?”
Listen to Jesus—He knows.
This is account may or may not be traditional, but it’s message couldn’t be truer nor the task more certain…
“Little children, Love one another,” the aged John the Apostle taught his young disciples.
“Why do you always say this one thing?” they asked.
“It is the Lord’s command, and if it is done, it is enough…” he replied.
Jesus’ command is absolute—no ‘but’s’.
So, what will you do with your day…?
How we view God has a huge impact on how we treat others. A wise friend once observed,
“We are created in God’s image. Whenever you meet a man, it is God asking you, “How will you treat Me?”
I have yet to recover from this statement. I am glad.
(Since the Author of Hebrews told Jesus’ followers to “provoke one another to love and good deeds”, here are some provocations I collected over the years that I hope to launch every day or two. Blessings and provocations upon you. —j)
Aristides watched Christians. He lived in the early 2nd century AD, and he saw believers who believed and who did—and it showed.
“They abstain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world. As for their servants or handmaids or children, they persuade them to become Christians by the love they have for them; and when they become so, they call them without distinction, brothers. They do not worship strange gods; and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another. When they see the stranger they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as over a true brother; for they do not call those who are after the flesh, but those who are in the Spirit and in God.
“And there is among them a man that is poor and needy and if they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days, that they may supply the needy with the necessary food.
“They observe scrupulously the commandment of their Messiah; they live honestly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God toward them, they render praise and laud Him over their food and their drink; they render Him thanks…
“Such is the law of the Christians and such is their conduct.”
—From The Apology of Aristides, Syriac text and translation. Cited in Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 1 (Chicago Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc), page 346
This is what Christians looked like and did. It’s good to look back and remember, but some memories need resuscitation into a working reality. Lets hope the modern church hasn’t fallen too far from the tree…