Last winter brought more ice and snow to the East Coast than my husband, Joe, and I had ever seen in our 60+ years. The worst part was that as soon as one storm was over, another one was on its way. Joe would be out there morning and night using his snow blower on our property, and then using it to help neighbors who had no snow blower of their own. It was hard work, especially for someone like Joe who had suffered a heart attack one year, and then undergone open-heart surgery another. Nevertheless, Joe wasn't the type to turn his back on a neighbor in need, so storm after storm, he labored to clear away the snow and ice for us, and for others.
All those storms were very hard on our old snow blower, and one day, our old machine refused to start. So Joe began the hard task of shoveling our long driveway and walkways by hand. I was busy inside our house, and when it dawned on me that I hadn't heard the familiar sound of our snow blower, I took a peek outside one of our front windows. What I saw made tears spring to my eyes. Two of our neighbors who didn't have snow blowers were busy shoveling our driveway, while Joe stood by trying to catch his breath. One of these neighbors was an elderly gentleman who never shoveled his own property, but always hired someone younger and more able to do it. The other neighbor was the man who hired himself out to our elderly neighbor, to earn some extra money to pay his bills. Both were neighbors that Joe had helped out many times when storms had covered their property with ice and snow.
As I watched this scene of neighborly love, I thought about Solomon's words in the Book of Proverbs: "The merciful, kind, and generous man benefits himself [for his deeds return to bless him]." (Proverbs 11:17 AMP) Another proverb of the wise king in this chapter says: "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:25 NIV) You see, our God is a generous God, and He calls His people to follow His example. He does this, not just so we can be a blessing to others, but so we will benefit ourselves. The apostle Paul put it this way: "[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings." (2 Corinthians 9:6 AMP) Even if we don't receive rewards for our acts of generosity from other people, God will reward us Himself. I know this from experience because when I have labored long and hard without any apparent reward for my efforts, the Lord has led me to claim His promise in Isaiah 49:4 (NIV): "But I said, 'I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God.'" And I have witnessed God sending me blessings that I never could have imagined, or even asked for. The Bible says, "Kindness makes a man (or woman) attractive." (Proverbs 19:22 TLB) Are you ready to get better looking God's way?
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times that You've sent opportunities my way to be a blessing to others, and I didn't make the most of them. Give me a generous and compassionate heart like Yours, so that I will be eager to reach out to others using the strength and the skills You've blessed me with. Help me to have pure motives that are pleasing to You when I lend someone a hand. Thank You that when my efforts are unappreciated and overlooked, my benefits and rewards will come from You!
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