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Almost doesn’t count for Christians

Sometimes, it’s tempting to count the “almosts” in life. The missed shots or dropped passes may not tally on sports scoreboards, but as Christians, we like to give ourselves at least partial credit for a number of deeds that never quite make the transition from thought to action.
After all, thinking of others means our heart is in the right place, doesn’t it?
• “I almost stopped to get that homeless person a hot meal.”
• “I came ‘this close’ to buying extra school supplies for kids who might not have any.”
• “I wish we would have remembered Missions Sunday was today.”
• “Next time, I’ll offer to help with child care for that single mom.”
Merely noticing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those around us doesn’t accomplish anything.
Even passers-by acknowledged the beaten, robbed, left-for-dead man onthe side of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Only the GoodSamaritan came to his aid.
In this New Year, let’s replace the positive sounding “almost” with themore realistic phrase “not quite” when it comes to caring in a literalsense for those around us.
As we step forward into this second decade of the 21st century, perhapsit’s time to take inventory of our good intentions. Write them down.Make a plan. And then let’s make 2010 the year we act upon thesemagnanimous desires God places upon our hearts.
In spite of our best excuses — the shaky economy, time constraints,perceived limitations of all kinds — we cannot call ourselves followersof Christ if we aren’t willing to serve others. By satisfying onlyself, we merely succeed in robbing ourselves of profound blessings eachday.
Where do we begin? By developing an ever-deepening generosity ofspirit. When we commit to putting others first, we not only see themand their needs, but we embrace the opportunity to help.
Givers don’t accidentally pour themselves into people’s lives — theymake a conscious choice to see what’s happening with those around them,and then they work to make others’ circumstances better. For most ofus, placing another person’s needs — especially those of individualsoutside our inner circles — may be taxing. Yet with intentional thoughtand practice, instinctively sharing our time, talent and treasure canbecome a lifestyle.
Needs are varied, and the responses can range from a well-timed phonecall to a handwritten prayer to a folded bill pressed into someone’shand. Not all giving is monetary, of course. Those who write generouschecks often lament that they don’t expend enough of themselves. Onechallenge for the New Year might be not only to help fund programs, butalso to carve out time for people in crisis.
Those of us who lead lives we label as “too busy to help others” mightdo well to reflect on how much time we devote to gratifying ourselves.Is every half-hour spent in front of a computer screen necessary, orhas social networking replaced real encounters? Do we prioritize aweekly television show above more meaningful, difference-makingendeavors?
On the other hand, money is critical to so many worthy ministries andparachurch organizations — The Christian Chronicle among them. Buyingfood, providing medicine, printing Bibles in various languages andrebuilding homes and church buildings ravaged by hurricanes takesfunding. When many contribute to these efforts, the broad-based supportindicates so much about us individually and collectively. In theChronicle’s case, we depend on readers like you to pay for rising costssuch as printing and postage. Without you, we could not keep informing,inspiring and uniting Churches of Christ.
This much is true: We can’t out-give God. But we certainly can use theresources he provides on every level to bless those all around us, withall those who give and receive seeing and feeling his love.
May we as the body of Christ be a catalyst for a generosity revolution in 2010!

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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