Using our gifts for good
"Stewarding your life wisely can bring great confidence, excellence of character, and peace of mind—and lead you to create a legacy, a story worth telling."
—Sally Clarkson (Own Your Life)
A couple of months ago, we were driving through town and came to a stop light. There was an older man on the corner holding up a sign, one that I did not even read. Josh and I have always come to an agreement that when we see someone in need, if we have the resources, we help them—sometimes it is a $20 bill sometimes it may only be $3. We are always keeping in mind that "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more" (Luke 12:48), we pray for that person to use their funds diligently and trust that God placed that person in our path and the funds in our pocket for a reason.
I frantically started digging through my purse to see what cash I had available before the light turned green and found $3 that I quickly grabbed and handed to the man. Josh always makes fun of me because anytime I hand something to the homeless, this meek voice comes out of my mouth as if I could vomit guilt all over the person. Even though it seems like a "good deed" I can never help but feel guilty for all that I have been given, through hard work and only God's blessing, but guilty non-the-less. As I started to roll up my window, the man caught my eyes and said, "M'am, I promise this will get used for good."
I could not shake the genuine look in his eyes, or what he said to me, all day and it frequently still enters my mind. As ridiculous as this sounds, I feel like God placed that man there just for me that day. I often see the same homeless men on the same corners and I know who I have given too and who I haven't and I have not come across this man again.
He did not have to tell me that he would use that $3 wisely, but he did. In doing so, it made me think all day on the time, the opportunities and the resources I am given. We all have a choice to make with what we are given in life. After thinking, I came away with 2 thoughts.
Am I using my resources wisely?
We are all given 24 hours in a day. Are we saying yes to the things that bring peace and joy into our lives? Are we saying 'yes' to the things that will matter in the perspective of eternity, or are we merely looking at the things that are presented right in front of us?
Am I doing all I can in my homeschooling journey? Am I doing all I can to be present with my kids instead of sidetracked by my phone? Am I giving my all to my husband whom the Lord graciously gave to me to be his helper in this life? Am I putting all I can into healthy choices to better my health, or am I just trying to do enough?
This is where the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. Did I spend my time doing things that benefit my family, or glorify my Father in Heaven? Did I do them with sincerity, love and joy that could lift others up and point to the only One who can provide purpose and peace that quenches the soul and spirit?
If I am being honest with myself, the answer would be no to all of those questions. I know that the word says to "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Colossians 3:23. To be honest, it is easy for me to fall into the trap of "good enough" and getting complacent in caring for those every day gifts.
How am I receiving the gifts I have been given?
Are we receiving every day gifts (health, provision, love, etc.) with a thankful and humble heart, or are we receiving them and not even giving them a second thought? It is no secret that our generation, and mine in particular (millinailitis) is known as the "entitled" generation.
Here is the truth. God has gifted each and every one of us with a purpose and a calling and we can receive that with a thankful and humble heart in order for Him to use us to our full potential, or we can let the gifts He has given us seem too "ordinary" and we can take it for granted and never know the full potential and purpose in what God has for us.
What if I were to tell you that there may even be seasons, years or a lifetime, where God uses your gifts and callings, not for your own benefit, but for the benefit of others?
How would you receive those gifts?
Could you promise to use them for good?
I can't help but think about the story of the widow's offering found in Mark 12:41-44
"And he (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
A few observations on this text:
1. Jesus paid close attention to what people gave, not because he wanted to keep make sure they were paying what they should, but he was taking close note of the character and the measure of their hearts.
2. Not only did he take note of the measure of their hearts, he used it as a story to teach his disciples and us. He knows that we can be told something time and time again, but seeing a story unfold in front of us seems to resound more in the human heart.
3. It is notably easy for people to give out of their abundance. This woman who had nothing gave everything. She was not just poor, she was in need. She loved God and gave her all, knowing that it was only in Him that she would find peace, provision and the strength to continue on her journey.
I often contemplate the "you are enough" mantra. I feel as though our generation has had words spoken over us that if you try too hard you are putting on a show. Not everyone can be perfect in motherhood, keeping house, their job, their calling. Yes, we all make mistakes, yes we need grace from time to time, but to allow that to become our excuse in leading a life that is anything less than giving our all to God and the gifts he has given us is such a disservice to the potential fullness of life we are given. As Sally Clarkson so perfectly put it, "not perfect performance in life but devotion and contagious passion— not behavior, but heart.
The look on the homeless man's face is forever ingrained in my head as he said, "I promise I will use this for good." How will you receive your gifts today? Will they be used for good, or just good enough? Will you give out of your abundance, or out of your everything?
Friends, this life is so beautiful and it is a gift. I pray that you find this post encouraging to spur you on toward faith and good deeds because that is my heart. This message is a message I needed to type out because it has been a conviction on my heart. I hope your week is more than "good enough". I hope your week is filled with purpose, love and passion.