Nov. 25, 2022 – Ephesians 4:25-32
I remember the first time I witnessed need. It was subtle but once I saw it, I asked God to keep my eyes open to it. Need has a variety of forms. It starts with the basics like needing love, shelter, water, and food, and then it gets more complex.
Our reading from Ephesians 4:25-32 reminds us of the need to be different in our walk with Jesus. For the apostle Paul, different is allowing the Spirit to “renew your thoughts and attitudes.” It, also, means living into what God created us to be - righteous and holy.
So, on this Black Friday what does this mean in a world that is absorbed with consumption today? Where is the need? What can you do or bring to others who are truly in need? How can you move today that is different and reveals God’s ability to provide in a way that this world or stuff can’t?
Now back to the first time I witnessed need. I remember standing in the checkout lane with a mom and her two kids at a Decorah grocery store. It was the winter of 1996. The mom was paying with a WIC credit card, and she had misjudged her spending by about $30. She began asking the checkout clerk to remove items like bread, canned soup, and other things that I thought were necessary to living. I recall feeling her embarrassment as she looked at the line that had formed behind her now – waiting on her.
In an instant, a great deal of empathy fell over me as she tried to quiet the questions from her elementary-aged children wondering why items were being taken out of her cart. I was a college kid with not much to my name. What could I do?
Convicted, I reached into my coat pocket remembering that the night before I had deducted $40 from the local ATM. I remember a joy overcoming me when I looked at the teller. My smile and outstretched hand with two $20s rolled up in them were given with no strings. Love, joy, peace, and gratitude washed over me. I will never forget that experience. It was more fulfilling than anything I could have purchased for myself.
Be different. Don’t cling to what you think is yours. Be a light for Christ!
Dear Lord, It is hard to open our eyes to the needs of people and commit our time, resources, and energies to others. Reveal to us, when we share our gifts, the joy that leads to abundant life. Help us to be different in this world. And Lord, help me to trust that you will provide for my most basic needs, especially in a season of life where maybe I question how and where you are. Lord, help me in my unbelief. Lord, awaken me to your promises in this Advent season. Amen.
Questions for reflection:
- How do you react to the commercialism of Christmas? Ask God to open our eyes to the needs of others and how we can be different than the world.
- How can you be the light for someone this holiday season?