I enjoy and appreciate the ministries of a number of well-known radio preachers including David Jeremiah, Max Lucado, Charles Swindoll, Jeff Schreve, Ravi Zacharias, Erwin Lutzer, the late Adrian Rogers and more. But, listening in my car, I seldom hear a whole sermon.
Recently I was listening to Tony Evans. He was speaking on how Christ relates to us through our relations with Him and others. One point had to do with our giving and he told this story.
One day a woman went to her mailbox and inside was a note: “I’ll be joining you for dinner this evening. Jesus.” Surprised but delighted, the woman surveyed her pantry and hurried to the store for groceries. She stocked up and was heading home to cook.
Just outside the grocery store, the woman met a poor beggar who she could tell hadn’t eaten in a while. He asked for food. Her first thought was that the groceries were for Jesus. But her heart was touched by the plight of the man so she gave him some of her food. Then she hurried on toward home.
Just down the street she met an older woman also begging for food. It was apparent that she too had not had much to eat. Again, the woman thought that her groceries were for Jesus. But she was once more touched by the need so she gave some of her food to the woman.
As she neared her house, she met a young woman and two small children in need of food. For the third time, the woman wanted to take her groceries home to cook for Jesus, but again, so touched by this need, she gave the rest of her groceries to the woman and children.
As she arrived home, she was so sad that she had nothing really appropriate to feed Jesus. She didn’t know what to do. As she opened her door, a note fell at her feet. It said, “Thanks for such a wonderful dinner. I had a lovely time with you. Jesus.”
I know the story is simplistic and predictable. But the truth inside it is profound. Jesus said it Himself, “When you give to the least of these (the truly needy), you give to me.”
The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are times our minds often go to the needs of others. But the needy are always among us. So, our heart of compassion, of generosity should be the same all year.
We cannot meet every need, but if we all meet the needs the Lord reveals to us and puts on our heart, many people will be touched through our simple giving.
This was illustrated this past Saturday when a group from our church traveled to Charlotte to Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child shoebox processing center. Inside this huge warehouse, hundreds of volunteers were busy preparing boxes to be shipped to boys and girls all over the world. Each box contained school supplies, toys, hygiene items and more. And when the boxes reach their destination, local churches will pass them out, sharing the gospel and discipling kids.
In all, the operation will process about nine million boxes this year with almost 2.5 million coming through the Charlotte center.
So, what can you do? Just give it some thought.
Your church or your church’s denomination probably has benevolent ministries you can help. Locally, get involved in Churches Assisting People, Help4Kids, the Salvation Army and their many ministries including the Red Kettle Campaign and the Angel Tree, the Shepherd’s Table, area food banks and pantries, homeless shelters, Toys for Tots, nursing homes and hospitals, retirement communities and local schools.
You can sing in your church’s Christmas program and visit a lonely neighbor in a hospital or nursing home. You can take a meal to a shut-in or give a phone call to someone who may be lonely or down. You can organize your church family or Sunday school class and go caroling through the neighborhood.
When we have more than enough, it’s there to help others. He may not come to your house for dinner, but you’ll make His heart rejoice when you get into the spirit of giving every day, every month and every year.