What would you describe as the best gift you’ve ever received? Perhaps it was a surprise birthday party, that a loved one planned for you, where those closest to you were there to celebrate (and all the effort that went into making it a special occasion – especially trying to keep it a secret from you). Maybe it was a personalized gift from a person, who knew exactly what you wanted, which revealed to you the devotion of their friendship and their thoughtfulness. It meant the world to you!
Now, I’ve received many wonderful gifts – from, seemingly ‘out of nowhere’, financial blessings (and just when I needed it) to the gifting of a washer and dryer set to me and Valerie. No joke! These are blessings indeed. Yet the gifts that seem to touch me the most, and the ones that I look back on that remind me of how I am loved, are those rare gifts filled with words. That’s right – words of affirmation.
To illustrate, this past January a few friends, from the young adults ministry, took me out to dinner at a restaurant. Since they know I am a ‘words person’, each person around the table shared what I meant to them, using one word, and then described why. Many of these words blew me away, as what they shared was a reflection of our relationship together. Familial words, such “brother” and “father”, were given, describing the closeness and impact I have had on them. Other words, such as “caring” and “thoughtful”, revealed the care that I try to express to them and to others. And then my lovely wife gave her word for me, which was “champion”. As explained in the dictionary, a “champion” is ‘a person who fights for a cause or on behalf of someone else.’ She said I was that, for her, as a husband, modeling the faith. Isn’t that precious?!?
Now that you’ve dried your eyes (or at least I did), I want to take this time to look at what it means to be a blessing to others. As I described above, we all know what it’s like to be the ‘recipient of blessing’, but, in these times we are facing, I believe ‘being a blessing’ is needed even more.
I’ve noticed that while most people are locked indoors, and trying to not stay bored, most activities have ceased, or have been altered, in a way that is not familiar. The uncertainty of our times, and the restrictions placed upon humanity because of covid-19, has caused many to suffer relationally. Some feel more isolated than ever. Others do not have people to care for them. Many are trying to make up the relational dissonance through social media platforms but, alas, this can only do so much.
People need people in this time. They want to know that they are loved, cared for, and known. While some may firmly believe that God is with them, the love of God, through another person, can make a tremendous impact with what we are facing.
This, indeed, is a unique time we are in. But, it can be an exclusive opportunity to do something great! And here’s what I found out – small acts of kindness reap HUGE rewards. It’s true! Before the stay at home orders, the church typically had to do something outlandish, novel, and over the top to get people’s attention – a lot of work with little results. Now, that so much of our “normal” lives have been stripped from us, it doesn’t take much to make someone feel special. Now is the time.
There’s also a biblical precedent (a universal truth that transcends time) for being a blessing to others. 2 Corinthians 9:6 states, “But this I say: The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one sows bountifully will reap bountifully.” Straightforward isn’t it? We ‘reap what we sow’. If we want to live a generous, loving, and fulfilling life, we need to look for opportunities to bless others. If we fail to do so, we will not inherit that blessing back to us.
In regards to being generous to others, Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” This verse reveals to us that the Lord will bless us even more abundantly if we take the time to bless others! These blessings can mean spiritual riches on earth, but it definitely implies that we are storing up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21) when we give generously to others. And remember – the motive to ‘give’ a blessing, not to ‘receive’ a blessing. Rather, we give to bring approval, to ourselves, and glory to Christ, and to be an avenue of blessing to others, thus pointing the way to Christ. This passage serves as a reminder, and an incentive, for giving, but not as the motive for giving.
Let’s look at one more verse together. Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters himself will be watered.” This sounds like the opposite our natural, rational minds would like to think. How can I be prosperous if I am being generous? The answer is that blessings will be bestowed upon you in a variety of ways. We cannot assume that if we bless someone with $100 that we will get back $100, or even $1,000. No. The Lord doesn’t supply a formula for us to use to manipulate God’s economy. It is simply a principle that opens up generosity towards us when we are being generous to others.
Let’s say you have extra money to give and want to bless someone. That’s good! Your generosity could help someone in dire need of basic necessities. You taking action ‘to water’ will allow God to ‘water’ your ground. Perhaps the blessing to you will be the Lord filling with a sustaining joy or an everlasting peace. It could be in the form of a new friendship with someone who encourages you to take greater steps of faith. The options are limitless, and so are the opportunities to be a blessing!
I want to get into the practical section of this blog and write down a few ways that you and/or your family can get involved to be that blessing for others:
· Give needed supplies to your church or an organization. At my church, we are currently accepting donations of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks, and canned food (they can be dropped off at the church, or I can pick them up). When we gather enough supplies, a few of us plan on demonstrating the kindness of God by making gift baskets and delivering them to our neighbors.
· Write letters as a source of encouragement. Since people are stuck indoors, use snail mail as a way of saying, “I miss you!” Pull up the church directory, or look at your friends list, and write a personalized letter to someone, including a Scripture verse, to refresh and encourage them.
· Make something. I’m purposely being generic here because they are all kinds of options out there! For example, a few ladies at my church are making ragdolls in preparation for Operation Christmas Child (a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, that gives Christmas gifts to children, in impoverished countries, who have not heard of Christmas with Christ). They are now gathering a team of families, with their children, to work on this together!
I hope that you’re inspired to take on one of these ways to be a blessing, or that it has jogged your mind to do something else creative. (If so, I’d love to hear about it and I can add it to my blog!) Let us not forget that it doesn’t take much to make a big impact and, right now, you have the perfect opportunity to do so. This is a divine time so let’s use it wisely! My hope is that, years from now, you’ll be reminded of this season as being the best gift you ever received because you gave out of your heart, to others, for the glory of God.
 Don’t worry, we’ll have our gloves and masks on!