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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 10:8’

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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Here I was, innocently driving along a busy Sydney road on a boiling hot day, my mind grappling with how to rescue one of the main protagonists in my current novel from the pickle he has managed to get himself into, when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a bright red bus travelling in the opposite direction. At least, it wasn’t so much the bus itself I noticed, but rather the words on the front where the destination is displayed. This bus wasn’t going anywhere though. Instead, its sign read: ‘Sorry – not in service’.

Now the first thing that struck me was what a polite bus it was! Such messages are normally a lot more abrupt, with a simple ‘Not in service’ sufficing. So I reflected for a moment on the vast difference one little word can make – especially the word ‘sorry’.

But the second thought that came to me was much more profound. And I suspect it was one of those blinding reminders I seem to need from God at regular intervals to keep me on track in my life. It occurred to me to wonder how many times God sees this sign written all over us – with or without the word ‘sorry’ attached. How often have I simply chosen to go about my own business as I plan my day or my week or the year ahead, forgetting all about what God might want me to do or whom God might want me to serve? How often has God had to look for another to do what I was being prompted to do or to say those words God had for me to say?

Now I don’t believe God wants to put a big guilt trip on me. Yet on the other hand, if God sent Jesus Christ to die for me, if God has given me eternal life and so much else in my life here and now, surely I need at least to think about how I can love and serve God in return? Surely I need to consider how I can truly be ‘in service’ for the King of Kings, remembering the great love I have received and allowing this love to touch others through me? ‘We love because he first loved us’, we are reminded in 1 John 4:19. ‘Freely you have received, freely give’, Jesus himself tells his disciples in Matthew 10:8.

So I’ve decided that as 2011 begins to get under way for me, I don’t want a ‘Sorry – not in service’ sign over my life, polite as that may be. I want to be ready and willing to do the things God has for me to do. In 1 Peter 4:10 we read:

Each one should use whatever gift he [she] has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

What a privilege to be able to ‘administer God’s grace’ in just the way we have been gifted and created to do! For me right now, I endeavour to do that through my writing and speaking, hopefully passing on God’s love, building others up and encouraging them in turn to be all God has called them to be.

But how about you? How has God gifted you? Are you ‘in service’ too?

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