Sure, Easy for You to Say
We spend a lot of time looking at other people. We observe people at work, at school, in traffic and at the next restaurant table. And if that’s not enough, the average person spends 1.72 hours per day on social media,* which is one more way to see what other people are doing. Often, what we see is frustrating. Wives are prettier and husbands more handsome. Children are smarter and better athletes. Cars are newer, homes bigger and pets don’t chew up furniture. At least that’s how it looks. The full story is rarely in view. Chronic illnesses and pain lurk just below the outward beauty. There are children struggling with peer pressure and bullies and jobs filled with stress and insecurity. Still, envy creeps into the picture. We see the good circumstances of others and the bad circumstances of our lives. There is a better way to look at life. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Practice, Practice, Practice
Giving, like so many things, takes practice. When the word generosity is used, the first thing that often comes to mind is some sort of financial resource—money. Certainly giving money can be a generous act but it is not the only way to give or to be generous. Giving is not just about tangible items. We can give our time and our labor. But adding labor and time to gifts of money is not an all-inclusive description of generosity. Do we ever think of a confession as being a generous act? In 2 Corinthians 9:13 (NIV) we read “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” When we give money, time, resources or make a personal commitment, we are most like our heavenly Father. Generous giving and serving brings us a joy unlike any other. Sometimes the simplest sayings capture the largest ideas. Such is the perspective on giving and generosity in the saying, “It is better to give than to receive.” The origin of that little bit of wisdom springs from the book of Acts.“ In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’“ Acts 20:35 (NIV) Giving and doing so generously is a way to display and practice thanks but it must be practiced daily.
The Gift of Imperfection
Just a few days ago we sat down with family and friends to share a Thanksgiving meal together. Things don’t always go right with those dinners. But things don’t always go right with us as we journey through life either. Consider these Thanksgiving stories. We were having a huge meal with lots of people. When the humongous turkey was done we each grabbed a side of the disposable foil pan and lifted. We got it just out of the oven before the pan bent and we dropped the turkey and the entire contents of the pan all over the kitchen floor! It went spilling out EVERYWHERE! Stephanie Sullivan I had everything cooked and sitting out on the counter except for the dressing, so I took it out of the oven and sat it on top of the stove. All of a sudden, I heard a small explosion. I did not realize the stove was hot and when I sat the glass dish on it, the dish exploded into pieces. Glass went everywhere. It got into all the food that was on the counter. The only thing salvaged was the mashed potatoes and bread. Dawn Brewer My friend’s mother-in-law always added a drop of yellow food coloring to the gravy to give it that golden glow. One year she accidentally used red, and everyone had to look away while eating what looked a lot like blood poured on their mashed potatoes and turkey. Diane Rinaldi None of us can go through life without mistakes and blemishes. But just as the food coloring covered the real look of the potatoes and turkey, the blood of Jesus covers our sins and errors in this life. Let’s be thankful that we have a God who loves us and wants to spend Thanksgiving with us for all eternity.