My Pinky Finger or My Whole Hand?

flowerWhen you think of the stories of the Bible, which one pops into your mind?  Is it Noah and the ark, or Jonah and the big fish?  One of the more familiar stories is the account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).

To help you remember this story, let me remind you of the main characters.  It involved a thief who beat a man and the reactions of a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan.  Each of these people pondered a question.  The question asked by the priest and the Levite was: “What will happen to me, if I stop and help this man?”  The Samaritan asked the question from a different perspective: “What will happen to this man, if I don’t stop and help him?”

Both the priest and the Levite barely noticed the injured man, but the Samaritan was eager to help bear his burdens.  Of the three, it seems that the Samaritan was better acquainted with the words of Solomon:

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.  Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?  And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).”

I’ve wondered how much this story influenced the thinking of William Penn, who said: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

Some of the simplest acts of kindness, like lending a helping hand, are the most noble.  The following quotes focus on this kind of ministry:

  • Martin Luther King Jr: “Life’s most urgent questions is: What are you doing for others?”
  • Booker T. Washington: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

God calls us to try to see each other through, not to try to see through each other.  We do this best when we labor together; lift each other up; and, support one another.

An Instrument of God

images (5)When I read John 9 this morning, seven words popped into my mind:  “The absence of Jesus demands my presence.”

When faced with the dilemma of a blind man, Jesus said:  “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5).”  Because He is no longer in the world, I am responsible to proclaim the principles of light in a world of darkness.

God has equipped you and me for this ministry.  Peter said:  “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9 ~Amplified Bible).”

This theme was developed in the life of Noah who Peter referred to as a “preacher of righteousness.”  The world had witnessed wickedness, but God called Noah out of that darkness and into his marvelous light.  Noah was chosen to speak of the excellent qualities of God that were revealed in a single word picture—the rainbow.

In the language of the night and day or light and darkness, The Message emphasizes ythe ministry of those God has chosen:   “You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

Last week I spoke to a friend that I had not seen in several months.  I said:  “Good to see you.”  He replied:  “Good to hear you.”   He has lost what most of us take for granted—the ability to see.  His blindness gives him the unique perspective to contrast the experiential difference between light and darkness.

In a spiritual sense, the believer also has a unique perspective.  He has been “chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (GWT Version).”

It is difficult to explain the wonderful sweetness of honey to someone who has only tasted the sourness of a lemon. Because you have lived in a sour world and tasted the sweetness of God’s Spirit, you are God’s instrument and you have been chosen to reveal the “night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”