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Posts Tagged ‘Luke 6:31’

Jo 17Let’s say that one day, through no fault of your own, you damaged someone else’s car when they were not around. Assuming you yourself were unhurt, would you immediately look for the owner so you could discuss things face to face with them? If they couldn’t be found, would you leave a note with your contact details? Or would you hope no one had seen what you did and quickly scurry away, breathing a sigh of relief?

Recently, I backed into someone’s car in a shopping centre carpark because a floor mat in my car had somehow covered the brakes. After I collected my wits, I looked around for the owner, but also began writing my details on a page from a notebook I had with me. Whenever someone came by, I asked if the car was theirs–and I was more than a little shocked at their responses. Most looked at me as if I was weird to bother writing a note. One man even said to me straight out, ‘Oh, you’re good, leaving your details!’ Obviously, there was no way he would have!

When I told a friend about this experience, she mentioned how she had once managed to put a scratch on the side of an older utility, so she too left her details on the windscreen. The owner was utterly amazed that she bothered to leave a note—he could not get over her honesty and thanked her profusely, telling her the scratch did not matter. And when the owner of the vehicle I damaged contacted me, his nice, polite message also said in part, ‘I appreciate that you left a note’.

It seems to me many people in our society today feel it’s okay to disappear in such situations, without owning up to what has happened. After all, nothing can be proved, if there were no witnesses. Yet … well, what happened to the old rule that honesty is the best policy? Or, for that matter, the words of Jesus himself that many call ‘The Golden Rule’ and quote blithely from time to time:

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 New International Version

One day years ago now, I returned to my parked car only to discover that someone apparently driving some sort of truck had reversed into it and over the top of the bonnet, resulting in considerable damage—but no note! Did this person not realise what had happened? Perhaps. Did they not have a pen and paper? Perhaps. Did they know they would be unable to pay for the damage or afford to lose their insurance excess? Quite likely. Whatever the reason, they had decided to disappear while the going was good. I have never forgotten how this made me feel way back then—and now it was my turn to decide whether to do the same to someone else or listen to those words of Jesus.

It’s a no-brainer really, isn’t it? Why would we think our standards are better than our Creator’s, who knows how we function best, both as individuals and as a society? It may cost us financially to be honest, but surely the joy of living how God wants us to live is worth so much more than that, don’t you think?

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This past weekend, I attended the Sydney book launch of My China Mystery, written by my friend Marion Andrews, about her father’s experiences as a missionary in China and also as part of a British Gurkha regiment during the war. Marion and I have known each other since high school days – I have many fond memories of travelling across Brisbane together to our old high school, wearing hats, gloves and black stockings as the rules stated we must, even on the hottest and stickiest summer days! So I enjoyed being able to provide some of the food for the afternoon tea and helping out in general. Besides, Marion’s home is in Tamworth and since she needed to be in Sydney for the previous week, she had no opportunity to bake anything for the occasion.

Yet as I thought about it, I realised there was something else driving me to help in this way. You see, I myself have five published novels, so have held a variety of book launches of my own over the past five years. And for at least three of these, I was so grateful for the help my friends gave me, freeing me up to speak and then to sell and sign my books. I remember clearly how they prepared food, arrived early to set up, helped me decorate the venue and set out the food in a much nicer way than I would ever have thought of – not to mention cleaning up afterwards.

So now I was passing on the blessing – ‘paying it forward’, as the movie of that title showed people doing. This is what we are encouraged to do in Scripture, time and time again, in different ways. For starters, Jesus tells us in Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you. My friends had already ‘done’ it for me – so now I was to ‘do’ the same for others. And Paul writes in Ephesians 4:4: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. At my launches, my friends looked after my interests – so now it was my opportunity to look after my friend’s interests in a small way at least.

But more than that, Jesus shows us clearly what our attitude needs to be when he instructed his twelve disciples how to act, before sending them out to minister (Matt 10:8) – ‘Freely you have received, freely give. And Jesus himself gave up everything, even his very life, for us. So what excuse do we have not to give to others as we are called on to do? Years ago, I was greatly challenged by Jesus’ parable about the unmerciful servant who was forgiven a huge debt he owed to the king but was not prepared to forgive another who owed him only some pitiful amount in comparison (Matt 18:21-35). Just as we are to forgive others as we have been forgiven, so I believe, in all our relationships with others, we are to treat them with the same grace we have received.

This week, I pray you too will have an opportunity to experience yet again the grace of passing it on, of ‘paying it forward’ in some way. And when you do, I’m sure you will discover, as I did yet again, how true it is that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

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