In the movie The Blind Side, a wealthy family chooses to adopt a homeless African-American teenager who has been traumatized by a terrible home life. In one scene, the family matriarch, Leigh Ann Touhy (played by Sandra Bullock), is enjoying lunch with her friends at a restaurant.
After receiving some criticism for adopting an African-American who will be graduating from high school soon, Leigh Ann explains…
“Look, here’s the deal: I don’t need you all to approve my choices, all right? But I do ask that you respect them. You have no idea what this boy’s been through, and if this is gonna become some running diatribe, I can find an over-priced salad a lot closer to home.”
“Leigh Ann, I’m so sorry,” a friend answers. “We didn’t intend to—”
“No!” another friend interjects. “We didn’t! Really!”
“I think what you’re doing is great,” her third friend explains. “To open up your home to him. Honey, you’re changing that boy’s life.”
“No,” Leigh Ann replies. “He’s changing mine.”
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1 John 3:7-24
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Daniel 11:2-35. The details of this prophecy seem unmistakably exact, and interestingly enough, most scholars can attest to its fulfillment. After Alexander the Great’s empire was divided into four parts (in 304 BC), Ptolemy I became the ruler of Egypt (the king of the south) and Seleucus I became ruler of Syria (the king of the north). This passage is a great example of the fulfillment of prophecy in Scripture.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
The young church Eugene and I pastor is enjoying an exciting season of God’s favor in the school where we meet for corporate worship. Over the past year, the school has begun asking us to help them care for families in need, and now we’re partnering together in order to mentor their at-risk youth. People shake their heads in disbelief when I describe our ongoing partnership with the public school, and all I can say is, “It must be the work of God.”
But one event seemed to blow open the floodgates in our relationship. Last August as classes resumed following summer break, we decided to give back-to-school survival kits to every person on the 150 member school staff. That’s a pretty tall order when you consider that we don’t even have 150 people in our church! So, we invited the school community (families of students in the school) to help us. The school gave us permission to set up a table at registration where we invited students and parents to sign a thank you card for the staff. While signing the card, we asked for donations toward the survival kits. By the end of the week, we had four poster boards filled with encouraging comments to the staff, and we had raised US$1,000 from the parents to go along with the US$1,500 we had raised within our congregation.
The following Monday, the school principal welcomed me to the staff meeting where I presented the poster boards to the 150 staff members. There, I also thanked them for their selfless service to our children. The next Monday, we presented the back-to-school survival kits to them, replete with ibuprofen (of course!), an orange, green tea, a gift card to Starbucks, other miscellaneous items, and coupons for free stuff that were donated by local merchants. The feedback was overwhelming.
This whole experience has taught me an important lesson: generosity opens people’s hearts. The apostle John reinforces this throughout his first epistle, especially in today’s reading. He writes in 1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Saying “Jesus loves you” is one thing, but showing it blows the doors off the hinges.
Why is generosity so powerful? Because when we give, we emanate the aroma of Christ. People see Jesus. John also wrote: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16).
Think about it: God so loved the world that he…what? He gave. And we’re never more like God than when we give, not only of our finances but of ourselves.
After witnessing the miracle of our relationship with our local high school, I just want to keep on giving. Like the example from The Blind Side, our generosity is changing lives, beginning with us.
Loving and giving are expressions of grace. It’s giving without expectation of receiving anything in return. It’s laying our lives down without the possibility of anyone returning the favor.
And isn’t that what Jesus did for us?
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Think of a time when someone gave generously to you. How does generosity (through giving or receiving) affect your heart?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.