As some of you may know, Kim and I recently returned from Cuba. This country has been frozen in time and is much like stepping back into the 1950’s! It was a wonderful opportunity for us to step out of our everyday comfort and into new challenges God presented us with! While there, we were asked by our leadership, “What were some of the most profound things you have experienced or learned?” I have to be brutally honest and admit, for me, I was strongly convicted by their acts of selflessness and generosity.
Today, I want to challenge you with the same challenge I’ve been given: Examine yourself. Do you really live your life in a way that would mirror Christ or, like me, have you been patting yourself on the back at the image you’ve created of yourself in your own mind? Let me explain.
I’ve always prided myself on being generous. I’d like to think I do well with meeting the needs of others around me. We contribute to food drives and we donate our gently used clothing. I’ve stopped to feed some of our homeless men and women as we leave the restaurant with our leftovers. We offer to keep our friends’ children so they can have some much-needed adult time and provide meals to those who undergo surgery or welcome new babies. BUT… What I noticed about all of these good deeds is that I give out of “extra”. If I have extra canned foods, if we have unwanted clothing, if we have leftovers, if we have an extra night that we haven’t decided to do something for ourselves, and if I have extra energy to make another homemade meal.
One of the most profound takeaways for me is this: These men and women have far less (materialistically) than I. Two of their homes could fit into my one. We have two very reliable vehicles to their one bicycle. My one chicken meal is what they are given for an entire month for a family of four. Yet they do not question, don’t even hesitate, to give to ME! We were welcomed into their homes with abundantly more than we could possibly eat! If one family has fruit and their neighbor has none, they give. If someone doesn’t have a ride to work or church, they literally hitch a ride from possibly several passersby’s. The mentality of “take care of yourself first” was non-existent. The overall idea was exactly as I believe it was intended, “love thy neighbor as yourself.”
I do not say all of this to make you feel like you should go out and give everything away simply to be a better person. I also understand that all the little changes we make toward being more Christ-like add up. All I ask is that you allow yourself some time to let this concept sink in.
Is there perhaps an area of your life that you could do better in when it comes to showing compassion? What is that and what is one small change you can make? Now be intentional in doing that! For me, I aim to re-evaluate the purchases I make and the material things I currently own. Do I really need some of these items? Are there others who could benefit from them greater than my family? Am I giving out of extra or am I simply giving? As I shared with many of the Cuban friends we made during our time there, when there is a need, they give. Period. For me, when there is a need, I give if I have extra.
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