I’ve spent most of my life living in America and can say without a doubt that I have been blessed beyond measure to have done so. I’ve never known true hunger and have always had a roof over my head to sleep. I’ve lived in relative safety and never run out of clothes. Sitting down to a meal, no matter how small, is a luxury so many have never known. What I take for granted, others cannot even fathom. I am not anti-American or anti-capitalism; I have enjoyed the fruits of both. As a follower of Christ, however, I am anti-greed and anti-hoarding. With all the blessings we have received, how can we but help to pass them along?
We who seek to follow Jesus desire to reach out to others in love. We long for them to know of His saving mercy and grace, and the best witness we can give them is through the demonstration of God’s love in our own lives. It’s one thing to tell someone the truth, but an entirely different matter to live out that truth. When we demonstrate the love of Christ in the way we live, others will be curious and drawn to us. Nothing compels like love; nothing repels like indifference. No matter how unlovable an individual may appear, all people have needs and as ambassadors of Christ it is our responsibility to serve them.
Take nothing for granted in your life. Practice being grateful for all the blessings you have received and then use those moments of gratitude to spur you to action. Take an extra thirty seconds to pray over your food before you eat; I assure you it will still be there when you are finished praying. Concentrate on how privileged you are to be able to have a hot, nutritious meal practically anytime you want one; recognize that more than half of the world does not share this privilege. Pray for those who do not share in your blessing of food. In the emotion of that moment, determine some way you can help alleviate hunger in the world. World Vision has a wonderful collection of ways in which you can provide food for those in need. You could sponsor a child through Compassion International, or perhaps donate to your local food bank. Consider sharing several meals each month with a stranger; if not inviting someone to physically be there, take the money you would have spent on the extra food and donate it to an organization that can minister to those beyond your reach. In this way you can share your blessings with those in need.
You can apply the principles above to any area that you currently take for granted. When you pour a glass of water for yourself, remember those who have no access to clean water and are dying from the parasites they have ingested drinking from their filthy water supply. Get involved with ministries like Living Water International or donate to the “100 Wells Campaign” of Persecution Project. Take a couple of cases of bottled water downtown in your city and hand them out to those who are homeless. Consider ways you can act in kind whenever you get dressed, get in the car, go to the grocery store, or take a hot shower – anything and everything you now take for granted. As we begin to pray for and relate to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, we will begin to understand and relate to their situation. We will find our hearts broken by their circumstances. We will find our hearts breaking over the injustices in the world, and seek out effective and creative ways to help. Our lives will begin to look like Jesus.
I challenge you to try out the above suggestions. Over the next thirty days, choose just one or two areas you currently take for granted, and focus on being grateful for it. Pray for those who are not blessed in the way you are, and then take a tangible step to do something about the inequity. If God has blessed you to live in a country that allows you to live in freedom and luxury compared to the majority of the world, then you – like me – have a great responsibility to share our wealth with others. We are commanded to love others as Jesus loves them; what better way to fulfill that command than by living out that love in a way that shares our blessings with them? Be grateful in all things, and then turn your gratitude into action by serving others with tangible acts of love. Love God and love people; never take for granted that with which you have been blessed.