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Making an impression on Jesus...here's a clue

an expansive notion


What impresses you? Stop and think for a moment please.


What 'thing' do you notice in such a way that it impacts your thinking or feelings?

My initial response--Beauty in nature. I am always moved when I am next to the ocean or in the mountains, and on an everyday basis, I love the colorful chirping birds flying among the tall trees that surround me here in North Carolina. Did I mention the deer who come to visit and the fragrant petals of my roses? Beauty...the kind God created.


With regard to people, what impresses you? Hmmm. Could it be the same thing that impressed Jesus? Perhaps.


We have been following in the footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, watching, observing, gauging the reactions to him--considering how people responded to him. We have also seen how Jesus himself responded to the words and actions of those he encountered.


The setting closing out Mark chapter 12 is actually preposterously offensive, unless of course, Jesus is who he claimed to be.


Jesus is in the Temple where Mark captures this: "And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.1


Whenever I brush up against this kind of unselfish generosity, it causes me to ask myself 'Am I a generous person?' The answer lies in how generosity is defined. My money, my time.... well, money is obvious--giving to God's work and to those who are in need, and giving my time to serve God and others. I firmly believe in these two, but is that all there is to generosity in the life of a believing person?


Years ago, I read a small book with a big takeaway, The Generosity Factor.2 (This is a great little, thought-provoking book) The storyline of the book revolves around two main characters, both successful businessmen by anyone's measure. However, besides business, the similarities between the two diminish. The first, the 'broker' is a self-made man who lives only for himself, wracking up one material trophy after another. Personally though, his life is rather flat.


The second fellow, the 'executive' is every bit the self-made man, in that he has a thriving, huge business he has built . . .

But he looks at everything he is,

everything he has,

and his very life,

as being gifts from God. [Think Chick Fil A]

Totally different perspectives.


After being intrigued by the executive's story, the broker goes to meet the chap, find out if he is 'for real', and to find the holes in his thinking. Since the executive knows even his precious time belongs to God, he is willing to carve out a big block of time to simply share his life with the broker, most all aspects of it. What the broker discovers is intriguing and most fascinating! Besides looking at all of life as a gift from God, the executive’s life is characterized by thanking God for all of his blessings, AND then, looking for ways to bless other people. Truly, after the joy of serving God and loving his family, his greatest fulfillment comes through meeting the needs of others. Hmmm . . .


The Generosity Factor discusses four areas which we can give of ourselves. TIME, TREASURE, TALENT and TOUCH. Giving of any of these blesses others, but also changes, grows and enriches us.


Why Talent, why Touch? Consider for a moment that you have gifts and experience in areas others do not. For instance, the other day I helped someone craft an important letter regarding a legal matter... it did not cost me a mite, but I offered my ability and time. One of the several ways my friend, Arlene, a mother of three grown daughters gives of herself is by leading a table at MOPS3, encouraging mothers of young children, even showing them how to do domestic things sometimes.


'Oh, okay, I can see that,' you grant me, 'but Touch?' Yes indeed. I think of how I scooped up one my children or grandchildren in my arms, kissing away tears - (my granddaughter Alyssa in my arms in picture above) I think of the times I have officiated at memorial services and was able to put a loving, protective arm around a widow or widower--or rested a hand on the shoulder of someone who was trying to deliver a difficult message. Physical touch is a gift, it is vital to all of us as human beings. ->We must not let a sexually-perverted thread in our culture keep us from hugging and embracing others or heck, after Covid, shaking their hands! Touch is critical in helping us thrive.


So the generous widow who gave all she had impressed Jesus in the Temple that day. Our generosity still impresses him today. We can give of our treasure, time, talent and touch, so let's do it, for in this way we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we love our neighbor as ourself!


Love generously,

Christine

Following Jesus in the gospel of Mark, #42


Great song: "Do Something" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8




1 - Mark 12.41-44

2 - The Generosity Factor, Ken Blanchard, S. Truett Cathy

3 - MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, a Christian mentoring group

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