I am a fairly deceived and deceitful woman. Oh, it’s not that I go about lying day after day. I do my best to be as honest as possible. But I think that I often deceive myself by lying about my own heart condition. Rather than spending time in prayer (who has time these days?) seeking God’s will, I make my own decision, ask God to bless it, and then blissfully go on my way thinking that His “stamp of approval” (through my request) solves it all. And I think I’m not alone in this, but rather am surrounded by many. There are things that I think American Christians do, thinking we are doing the “right” thing, when what we are doing is actually rebellious and self-centered. We give . . . a little. We pray . . . a little. We respect . . . a little. We have compassion . . . a little.
Hebrews 4:11-12 NKJV
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Last night we were watching a Canadian TV program where a group of contractors went down to New Orleans to build a house, one house, in a neighborhood destroyed by Katrina. Most of the residents of the neighborhood were seniors; many were grandparents raising their grandkids. Others from the neighborhood drove by, crying out why their houses weren’t being rebuilt. It seems to me with all the wealth in the churches in America, that we could have single-handedly rebuilt that county and not been the worse for it.
Everyday overworked teachers try to give one-on-one attention to kids in classes that are growing larger and larger. Many students are struggling with basic skills (reading and math) and would cherish a 30 minute visit from a volunteer simply willing to read to them or help with a math page. Surely some of us have 30 minutes a week to give.
Day after day, neglected, rejected seniors sit in chairs or lay in their beds in nursing homes. Their families have stopped visiting (if they ever came) because of the depressive nature of the place. These older folks would welcome a visit, reading a story or two from a recent magazine or the newspaper, or simply a song, a prayer, and a smile. Surely we have an hour a week to go visit the lonely.
Matthew 25:34-36 NKJ:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'”
It is true that we will always have the poor, the needy, the desperate among us. It is also true that the Lord Jesus commanded us to live out His will by reaching past our own needs and desires to those who are struggling more than we are. The economic downturn has increased the amount of need within our communities. Many programs are on the chopping block for public funding. It is at such a time that the Church has its greatest opportunity! This is the time for us to forsake our programs that entertain to reach out–stretching ourselves far past what we think our limits are–to those who are confused and hurting by their losses. One elderly lady, in the TV program last night, told about climbing into the tree in her yard with a single blanket, and watching her house float down the street. She sat in that tree for almost ten hours until help arrived, thinking about how she watched everything she owned drift away. Nothing was ever recovered.
We may think that we already live lives of compassion and giving, but it isn’t enough until we have truly sought God. Sometimes I think we don’t ask God because we are afraid of what He will say. We are afraid that He will ask us to give more, to live more sacrificially, to have less for ourselves and our family. We will give, but not to the point that it changes our lives significantly or puts our own futures at risk. But God knows our hearts! He knows that when we give only so much, we are refusing to trust Him completely. The writer of Hebrews calls this an “example of disobedience.” This is why I say that I often am deceived and deceitful. Rather than asking God, I decide something and ask Him to bless it. While I appear to be obedient, I am deceiving myself because I am being disobedient. The Lord Jesus told us that if someone demands our coat, we are to give him our cloak, too (Matthew 5:40). In other words, if someone needs, we give more, graciously and generously, trusting God to supply our need (if we actually end up having one).
I would challenge you today to check your heart attitude. Are you holding onto future expectations and hopes? Does that limit how much you give of your time and resources to others? Let us not be deceived nor deceitful, but rather wholly trusting of a God Who loves us without fail that we might fully enter into His rest.