01 March 2015

Need Grace? Here's your recipe.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. ~1 Cor 9:6-8 NKJV
These verses leapt out at me, today. In reading it, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that everything we do and everything we say is either giving or taking. It is either self-focused or Christ-focused. (Even if someone doesn't know Jesus, all selflessness is His.)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV
Every complaint, every little grumpy sigh, is self-focused. It's about our discomfort, our inconvenience. When faced with any obstacle, whether a bump in the road or the entire Selkirk Range, the choice we make about how we respond either blesses or steals from those around us.

If we choose to cheerfully give to those around us through kindness, longsuffering, gentleness and self-control, then the cause & effect relationship in 1st Corinthians comes into play: God blesses the cheerful giver with abounding grace. With an abundance of His unmerited favor.

Malachi 3:10 only further reinforces this with an outright promise from the Lord:
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it."
I love knowing that all scripture agrees. That Malachi 3:10 and 1 Corinthians 9:6-8 are complimentary, because they come from the same God. If the Israelites gave grudgingly in response to that injunction, I don't believe grudging obedience would've brought down overflowing blessing. God isn't in the business of behavior modification. He's in the business of changing hearts and minds, of transforming us into His image.

So if you feel you're running short on grace . . . if you feel you're lacking in your connection to heaven . . . if you feel you're lacking in anything in your life, give. Give your time. Give your attention. Give kindness. Give patience. Give gentleness. Give laughter and good humor. Give joy. Give good manners and courtesy. It will transform your world, and God will pour out His grace upon you. That empowering, transformative influence that makes you more than you could ever be on your own. That connection to heaven that changes everything.

You have to give.

You have to choose to be willing to bless, to extend grace to those around you.

Father in Heaven, thank You so much for this insight, today. I've long loved these verses, how they give a powerful key to unlock blessings at Your hand. But I never realized this was speaking of the way we interact with one another. Lord, show me where I fall short. Show me where I don't speak blessing, where I am selfish in my speech and behavior. And lead me out of it, God. Teach me Your way to approach all things, teach me Your perspective, Your patience, Your forgiveness. Teach me to bless those around me more and more. I love You, God. Thank You SO MUCH for all you do for me and mine. In Jesus' glorious name, amen.