Monday, January 23, 2012

Pass It On

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35 (KJV)

I was so encouraged during this past Christmas season when Kevin and I read about the secret donors who were going around to Kmart stores and paying off layaways for people they didn’t even know.  There was a real spirit of generosity in that.  Anonymous giving that came from the heart and needed no accolades, applause, or commendation.  Isn’t that what true charity is all about? 

When Zachary was a baby, he, Mom, and I went into a local restaurant and enjoyed a meal.  During the meal, we noticed an older couple sitting across from us, and now and then, our eyes would meet.  I don’t remember having any conversation with them, other than a smile here and there.  They got up to leave before we finished our meal, and that was the last we saw of them.  When we were finished eating, I walked up to the register to pay, and the cashier told me our meal had already been paid for….by the kind couple who had sat across from us.

On another occasion, Mom, Zachary, and I went to a local Cracker Barrel and ate lunch.  I remember seeing a gentleman dressed in business attire sitting at the table adjacent to ours.  I remember his friendly smile, but other than that, I don’t remember us having any other communication.  I remember seeing him leave and pass by our table on his way out.  When our waiter brought our check, it had been paid in full ….by this very kind gentleman. 

Both of our benefactors were anonymous….each of them had performed a much-appreciated random act of kindness…then slipped quietly off the scene.  They didn’t announce their kindness or make a big deal of it, and we didn’t find out about it until they were gone.  What a blessing they both were to us!  Obviously, they were not looking for thanks, but they were nice just for the sake of being nice.   I regret not being able to thank them, personally for their thoughtfulness, and though I tried to think of a way to do that….it would be impossible.  

But, it occurred to me that there is something I can do.  I can pass along their kindheartedness to others…anonymously….as opportunities arise.  Having been the recipient of the caring heart of another, I know how blessed I felt to accept their generosity.  So, I look for these types of occasions, and as God leads and prompts and provides, I try to take advantage of them.  And in doing so, I have learned one thing.  As much as I loved, appreciated, and enjoyed another’s kindness by having those two meals paid for and many other kindnesses shown to me through the years, I receive an even bigger blessing and sense of satisfaction when I am the one who is doing the giving.    

Jesus said “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.  It seemed to give Him a sense of ultimate joy when He met up with someone who had a need, and He was able to fill it.  Acts 10:38 (KJV) says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”  He went about doing good.  Jesus never wasted precious time, or missed a golden opportunity to help another.  He realized that His human, physical path would only cross that person’s once…and no occasion to bless another was ever lost or wasted by Him.

In Matthew 25:40 (KJV), Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  Who wouldn’t want to buy Jesus a meal?  Who wouldn’t give anything for the opportunity to pay for something He needs?  Are we not His hands and His feet…bodies that house His precious Spirit?  Proverbs 3:27 (KJV) says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”  Do we have the right to withhold good when it is in our hand to bless another on life’s way? 

Sometimes we are just not in tune with the needs of others around us.  Sometimes we are so burdened down with our own problems that we forget that there is always someone worse off than we are.  It is amazing how doing something nice for someone else inevitably causes us to feel better about our own situation. 

Think about how many people you come across on any given day.  What about in the grocery store?  It holds a wellspring of prospects to bless others.  Do you have a few extra dollars?  Why not offer to buy the person’s handful of groceries in front of you?  I’ve never met anyone who would refuse an offer like that.  If they do, then move on to someone else in your day, and try again.  Sooner or later, you will find someone who will thankfully accept your kindness.

I remember one time in particular that God opened a door for me to do this.  Please understand that I tell this only as an example and to provide an idea, not for self-praise.  It was a situation that didn’t allow me to be anonymous, but I pursued it just the same.  I was shopping for groceries, and I noticed a grandmotherly-looking woman with a baby in tow.  She stood staring at diapers for a good, long while, and finally ended up picking up a pack of the off-brand.  She walked past me, and headed toward the front of the store, mumbling something about this being her last $10.00.  As she passed by me, the Holy Spirit began to deal with me, reminding me that I had a little extra money, and I needed to help this woman.  By God’s providence, I ended up in line right behind her.  I noticed that all she was buying was the pack of diapers and a pack of peanut butter and crackers.  It was more than I could take.  I mustered the courage to say, “Ma’am, would you allow me to bless you?”  She looked at me cautiously, at first.  Then with a little more coaxing, she consented, took her two meager items, along with her $10.00 bill, thanked me, and left me standing in line.  I could see how much it meant to her, how surprised she was, and gratitude was written all over her face.  I know she appreciated it and felt greatly blessed, but let me assure you that her blessing couldn’t have been greater than the one springing up in my heart.

Imagine our world if each one of us would do one random act of kindness every, single day.  It doesn’t always have to be monetary.  What about doing a chore for your spouse that you know they don’t enjoy?  How about lifting your co-worker’s load?  Isn’t there something you can do to bless another person around you?  Think of all the people in your life.  Recollect all of the kindness you have been shown.  Then purpose it in your heart…starting today….to pass it on.

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