Friday, December 7, 2012

The Flat Tire

“…to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me" -Matt. 25:45 Well, I blew it again. I'd just had a phenomenal Saturday, at First Baptist Branson, with 200 plus other volunteers. We provided fun, care, prayer and groceries to hundreds and hundreds of people in need from the Branson community. It was an honor to get to serve and give. It was a lesson I'd never forget…at least for a few hours. Early Sunday morning, I was on my way to "work" at the church when I passed a man on the side of the road with a flat tire. As I kept driving, multiple thoughts raced through my mind. "I'm late and don't have time to stop" (I had plenty of time), "It's a guy, not a girl, so he can take care of himself" (he was by himself with no gas station in sight), "he might be an ax murderer who just escaped from prison" (we don't have a prison in Branson). Then it hit me. "Staples, did you learn anything yesterday? Sure, you can "give" when it's an "event" but how about when it's not convenient? The Lord brought to mind the passage in Matthew I was going to teach in Bible study later that morning, "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; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me" -Matt. 25:35,36 The truth is, most of us give when it's convenient. This man had a need and I chose to pass up on the opportunity to help him. I passed up on the opportunity to help Jesus. Our selfish flesh comes up with other excuses: "He's probably just lazy; He should have checked his tires before he left; He's getting what he deserves; If I help him, I'm just reinforcing his irresponsibility." We become like Peter at the end of the book of John. Jesus had already clearly instructed Peter to mind his own business and "tend His sheep," but Peter just couldn't help getting into the business of Jesus regarding John. "So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man? Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” - John 21:21-22 In other words, "Mind your own business. Feed my sheep. Meet other's needs.” It's not our responsibility or job to discern or figure out how much people qualify for their needs to be met. I'm sure many of the people at the feeding of the five thousand could have gone home to eat that day. But Jesus fed them anyway. Better yet, the disciples fed them anyway while Jesus provided the food. Why? Because, when it comes to grace, it doesn't matter. Jesus gives freely and without strings attached. It's not calculated giving. It's radical giving. It's not about food or cars as much as it's feeding people love. When we give radically and without calculation, we're sharing the grace and love of Jesus. It's a lethal mixture that can eradicate a lost world. Under conviction, I turned my SUV around and went back to help the man. He was gone. But the truck remained. An opportunity was lost but a lesson was learned. Perhaps he was an "unknown angel" that God used to teach me a lesson. He reminded me that it's more blessed to give than to receive. There are people with flat tires everywhere. Pray for opportunities to give and serve. And don't forget to stop and help. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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