Giving All or Holding Back?

dreamstimefree_239417The local church had advertised “Bible School” on their signs for a month. Finally, Monday morning came, and among all the regular church kids were several strangers. Two were a brother and sister, and it was obvious they felt quite out-of-place, and possibly “dowdy.” Their parents did not have much money, and what little they had needed to go for rent and food, not extra clothes.

One little girl, a regular at the church, tried to make the strangers welcome. She was shy, only eight years old, but her mom was always telling her to be friendly to visitors. When she arrived home, she told her mom about the children, excited that she had gotten out of her comfort zone to be friendly. She couldn’t seem to forget their poverty, though, not realizing she had little more than they.

She thought of a great idea! She would make a Bible cover for the little girl’s Bible, in a new pattern she had learned called “Crazy Quilting.” Her mom found scraps of pink and white satin, and with much love the child sewed until Friday morning, when she was ready to take the gift to VBS. The little stranger was thrilled! The cover was sewn with beads, sequins, and lace, and although it was done with a childish hand, it was obvious much time and energy had gone into the project. On the following Sunday the parents came to church, curious as to what kind of place would have a child who had spent so many hours making something for their daughter. They returned Sunday after Sunday, experiencing love and acceptance within the church. They gave their lives to Christ and became part of that small body of believers.

That was many years ago; the children have both grown up and probably forgotten the incident. However, the little girl did not hesitate to put what faith she had into action. She showed the kind of love to a stranger that all of us are to show to everyone we meet.

Take a moment and click on http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive, and select the sermon preached at Thomas Road this past Sunday. Everyone is asking, “what is a Christian,” but we need to ask, “Am I a Christian?” Listen to the sermon, then take this week to answer the questions and study what the Scripture tells us a genuine Christ-follower is.

The Question:

 1. Read about a rich, young leader, whose story appears in Matthew 19:19-26, Mark 10: 17-23, and Luke 18:18-27. Take time to read all three accounts, as there are different characteristics brought out in each one. What are some special attributes you notice about the man’s life? He seemed to have everything, didn’t he?                                                                                                                                      2. Read Matt. 19:16 again. What did he believe would gain him eternal life? Can you think of religions or people groups who believe it is their “good works” that will get them to heaven? Have you considered that if this were the case, Christ would have died for no purpose?                                                                                          3. Did you notice as you read that Jesus listed only the 5th-9th commandments, and then added “Love your neighbor as yourself”? What do you think He was trying to get the young ruler to consider? What do these all have in common?                      4. This man was “young,” “rich,” a “ruler,” and had “great possessions.” How often do you imagine he hung out with, ate with, or interacted with the poor people of his city?

The Answer:

5. Read verse 21. Jesus told him to do two things. What were they, and were they equally important?                                                                                                                  6. Did you think about the tone of voice Jesus used in telling him what he needed to do? Yet Mark 10:21a says how Jesus felt as He looked upon the young man. What emotion did He feel as He answered?

The Decision:

7. Read verses 22-26. Why did the young man go away “sorrowful”?                           8. Read Matt. 6:21. What was the most important thing in the young man’s life?       What is the most important thing in your life?

dreamstimefree_74113Close:

This story describes many of us, doesn’t it? The young man had everything someone of his age could want: he had youth, wealth, great possessions and a job that indicated he was probably in the echelon of learned men! Yet he went to Jesus, not only to learn from Him what he needed, but his conversation with Jesus showed that his upbringing had been one of the upper class. He said what most of us cannot say: he had kept many of the commandments from his youth up! But think about the peripherals: he had wealth, but cared about his fellow man by keeping the commandments. Was he giving his tithe, but no time? Money in the offering plate, but no interaction by loving the neighbors? Did he know anyone who was benefiting by his giving? He loved the good life the possessions gave him. Do we live like that? Can we give up our technological products, our cars for older models, one gift at Christmas, so that others can be recipients of our gifts of love? Ugh. Drive an old car? ONE gift??

So we have to ask ourselves this week, am I following up to a point, and then turning away in sorrow? Can I give up my home to go somewhere? (Not if Jesus hasn’t asked you to!) What would you say if He asked this of you?

Pray this week that you would be willing to be used as He desires. If He can use you, just be available. If He wants to use you, He’ll make it plain. If he hopes to use you, tell Him you will!

Remember last week: the world looks at you and judges what they think of Christians. That’s a heavy testimony.

 

 

 

© Max Blain | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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