Tuesday, December 6, 2016
are we too "beautified" to recognize?
With salad and soda in front of me, I paused with Momba to give thanks over our lunch. Immediately after the "Amen" the Holy Spirit gave me a question to chew on in my mind...
"Victoria, how much do you cost? If you were to tally up everything right now... how much are you worth today?"
Puzzled, I began calculating my outfit in approximate dollar figures. Ugg loafers ($100), Victoria's Secret underwear and bra ($60), Michael Kors tracksuit ($150), my purse, keychain, rings, watch, earrings, necklace, eyeglasses (almost $2000... seriously, phew?!!). Then I started to think about the products I use to primp and get ready with everyday... fancy shampoos, conditioners, make-up products, fragrances... easily another $100 worth of goops, powders, creams, and what-not.
I thought about the prescription I would be dropping off later at our nearby pharmacy. The breakfast I ate earlier, and the dinner I would eat once I returned home. The vehicle Momba and I puttered around town in to get to all our to-do list destinations. I even thought about the dog and cat food I would be dishing out to my happy, healthy pets who were, no doubt, snoozing comfortably while I was away.
Humbly, I responded, "Lord, I would cost a lot of money.... in fact, too much." On this normal December day, I had casually overlooked such things. I had forgotten all that was available and affordable for me to garb and groom myself with. Mind you, I wasn't even remotely fancy or dressed up yesterday... I was in a comfortable, everyday, running-around-town tracksuit armed with a to-do list and car keys!
When I returned home, I opened our mail full of incoming Christmas cards and sentiments from family and friends, and this got me further thinking... Truly, none of my peeps are lacking. Sure, we do not consider ourselves wealthy or well-to-do. Some have heavy college loans. Some have debt. Some are in need of employment. Some are sick and under-the-weather. But all of us still have a roof over our heads, beds to sleep on, clothes on our backs, food in our tummies. We all are blessed with adornments, detergents, running water, electricity. We have computers, phones, televisions, automobiles. We can afford milk, eggs, bread, flour, fruit, vegetables, cheese, butter... and many appliances to keep such items cold, frozen, toasted and baked to our personal liking. We have tools in our garages, shoes in our closets, insulation in our attics. Yes, truly we all have much. So, sooo much!
I whispered, "We cost a lot, don't we, Lord? But, sadly, we... I... do not always act like it."
Then the still, small voice gave me another thought...
"Victoria, how much do others cost? How much are they worth to Me? ...to you?"
Memories of those in less fortunate circumstances came rushing back into my dense noggin. Folks who may be fortunate enough to own at least one used t-shirt and one torn pair of pants. Folks who must carry gallons of rotten water back and forth from dirty lakes and/or reservoirs to their tents and/or shelters - all to feed their families. Folks with illnesses, who live dehydrated and/or without any aid to manage painful conditions. These folks have no pharmacy. They have no grocery store with aisles and aisles of options. They have no excess, no adornment, no education. Yet, these are whom the Lord says He loves the most. They are who Jesus came to pay the ultimate price for. The poor, the needy, the lost, the broken... he came for the sick, the tired, the lonely, the sad. So, how much do these precious people cost to God? And do I value their worth as much as He does? Do I love them as much as He loves? Or am I too "beautified" to recognize?
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:22-34)
Isn't it interesting that when the Lord asked me to consider how much I cost yesterday - how much I would tally up to - I didn't think about my actual value in His eyes or my worth and usefulness in His kingdom. No, I kept it superficial and selfish. I immediately looked at the ornaments, belongings, and luxuries in my life. I looked on the outside, not the inside. (Forgive me, Father.)
But, what if I had removed my "outer man" from the equation and valued my cost against the price Christ paid for me at Calvary? What if I had lived yesterday deliberately looking through His spiritual lens - considering what He had already sacrificed and given to me in order that I too might sacrifice and give to others in His Name? Suddenly, all these worldly bows and ribbons seem worthless, don't they? Instead, His Way seems soon much more important... even urgent!
Jesus said that those who live their lives showing mercy to the poor, the sick, and the needy are in effect ministering to Him personally and will be rewarded accordingly. Read with me His Words in Matthew 25...
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
Folks, Proverbs 14:31 says, "Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Today... this very day, how kind have we been to the poor and needy? Does it match how kindly we treat our own selves? Does it remotely look like God's kindness toward us? Sadly, I think many of us are too busy with to-do lists and Christmas shopping to notice such things. I fear we are running through the Walmart's and Targets of the world unaware that we are living in contempt of our Maker. Clearly, I too am not immune to this sin. I forget to love and esteem others on any given December day just as much as the next guy. But just because we are in company together on this, dear readers, does not make it excusable, or holy. How much do others cost to Jesus? And, is the cost too high for us to lovingly pay in thankful obedience?
Perhaps this new day is the day to esteem both ourselves and others with the spiritual eyes of our Savior, and follow His example of sacrifice. As radical as this may sound to some, I challenge you right now to do something a little crazy... take a moment to add up your cost. Add up the bankroll of this normal day of your life (clothes, food, fuel, products, etc.), and then ask the Lord to show you how much of it you should actually be giving away. What cost is God asking you to surrender? What is worthwhile in God's economy and, in response, are you making wise investments that match the truth of His Word?
Today, will you give the hungry something to eat?
Today, will you give the thirsty something to drink?
Today, will you offer shelter, clothing, medicine, and hope?
Today, will you give and love those whom God values the very most... "the least of these"...
Or are you too "beautified" to recognize?
According to the latest statistics, over 840 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished, and each day 26,000 young children die due to poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. (Proverbs 19:17)
Lord, please have mercy upon us today, and afford us Your vision so that we may regroup and repeat the sounding joy of Your Kingdom to this world in current need. Remind us regularly that we are utterly bankrupt without You and completely unworthy of Your eternity. And yet, you love us and offer us a rich new life in Christ so that we may become worthy in Your magnificent Name! So today, please teach us to be holy in your sight by covering all that we are with YOU. Show us where to love and give as You have loved and given to us.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
God bless us, every one!
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