Recognise kindness

The Lord initiates with me by showing kindness when He rescues me from my disaster. What catches my attention is when He does it without my even thinking to ask. My seeking God in independence is humbled.

It is through the Lord rescuing me from trouble that I become aware of both His power and His kindness; His ability and His character.

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. (Psalm 106:8)

This is critical to my spiritual journey. I am tempted to brush off His intervention. I say, ‘it was inevitable’, whilst ignoring that earlier I saw no way out. When I fail to think about His kindness then I won’t trust Him next time, I will give in to desires and crave what I hope will fulfil them taking them at any opportunity, but experiencing only emptiness of the soul.

But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test. So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them. (Psalm 106:13-15)

What I need to do is reflect on the Lord’s kindness and power to intervene. As I reflect on Him I become aware of how generous He is in His love towards me. I am challenged to show that same generosity towards others, trusting that He will continue His generosity to cover the cost.

 

The Bible study from which this came is found here

Downwardly mobile

We want to be associated with the rich, powerful and famous for through them we gain a foothold in their world and are elevated among our peers.

The ‘Great Banquet’ of Luke 14 expresses the betrayal felt by a host as each guest despises his invitation. Then, in a surprising turn, the host invites not the next best but those at the other end of the scale –

bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.

Perplexed, I re-read the chapter for clues. This parable was given in the context of a banquet.

12 Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

There is the same phrase! Here, Jesus gives a reason for inviting outcasts – a reward in heaven. This reveals the Lord’s value system often declared by Jesus –

Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last. (Luke 13:30)

To surrender the race for the top, receiving those the Lord sends us is a sacrifice of love, doubly so to receive those who will disadvantage us before those we care about.

False Generosity

I see a need; my heart goes out to fulfil it, but sometimes I fail to stop and ask the big question: What is God doing here? Why is the Lord of the universe allowing the need to arise? Is it a means of sharpening this person’s character and his dependence on God? If that is the case, then He actually wants the person to be squirming and my assistance would short circuit His purpose.

A friend is in trouble and I desire to help. There is a need for money; can I cover it? I call it generosity, but Psalm 50 questions my faith and motivation –

“I am God, your God. … I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal in the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”

God is sufficient for the need, so why am I so desperate to help? Am I using money to gain favour? If so, then I am guilty of getting in the way of God’s purpose and of seeking to usurp his place as the answer to all needs! The Lord’s reminder that He has everything in hand calms me and helps me walk in the light.

At other times I am prompted to give generously, yet usually at a higher personal cost and for an unknown benefit. That way I am protected from seeing myself as the source.