It was a frigid, snowy day, typical of Columbus, OH at Christmas time, and I was overdue winterizing my car for yet another treacherous winter season to come. The tread on my tires was becoming dangerously thin as I juggled and manipulated my scant budget to try and find a way to purchase a new set of tires. It just was not possible any time soon. Being a single mom living on a teacher’s salary at the time kept finances rather skimpy.
The anxiety in my stomach tightened as I maneuvered my way through the falling snow on my way to church, hoping my tires would hold out just a little longer.
While I was at church, a very dear couple in the choir greeted me with a sheepish grin and said they had a big surprise for me. They asked me to meet them at the Walmart Tire Center the next day. Could it be? I had not said a word to anyone!
When I arrived, they were already there waiting for me. Jerry rolled up in his wheelchair, and Jan walked closely behind, and they greeted me with great big smiles and hugs. “What is going on?” I asked.
They said that God had put it in their hearts to put all new tires on my car for me. What? I knew that they had enough financial challenges of their own, with Jerry’s battle with cancer and their mounting medical expenses. However, they refused to focus on themselves. They loved to give generously, and it brought them so much joy to bless other people.
“What can I do in return?” I asked.
Their only response was to “Pay it forward.” They asked me to bless someone else when I get the chance, and that would be all the payment they would accept.
They helped me understand that when we strive to be like Jesus, we find joy in giving generously, as He first gave generously to us. He paid the ultimate price for us! He left the splendor and majesty of Heaven and humbled Himself to live on earth as a mere man for our sake. He gave His life and paid the price for our sin so that we could be completely free and live eternally with Him. He was the perfect example of generosity, and it pleases Him when we extend generosity to others.
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in John 13, He commanded that they follow His example and do the same for others. That is what Jerry and Jan did for me. They “washed my feet” and asked me to go and do the same for someone else. Whether we wash feet figuratively or literally, we are fulfilling Christ’s command and representing His character to others.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14-15 NIV
What are ways we can give generously to others and show the love of Christ to a lost and needy world? Here are some examples I have personally experienced. Can you think of more? What can you do?
- My mom paid for the person’s check in front of her at the grocery store when the young mom came up short on cash. My mom would not allow her to have to put items back.
- My neighbor brought us a huge pan of old fashioned banana pudding just to be sweet.
- I took my kids out to a Mother’s Day dinner, and someone anonymously paid for our meal.
- Donna stayed up all night with me praying for me and supporting me when I went through a horrendous trial.
- I arrived at church to find a gift bag with my name on it from a “sister in Christ.” It contained a gorgeous necklace and earring set.
- My son was in an accident, and it was clearly the other person’s fault. It was raining, and my son gave his umbrella to the other driver so she wouldn’t have to stand in the rain while talking to the police.
- When we moved into our house, the ladies in the church came over and cleaned, applied shelf paper, and brought food for all the men who helped move.
Now, let us go and do the same! Let us wash some feet!
Today’s truth is speaking to me…
We have such a powerful opportunity to show the love of Christ and be salt and light in this world when we extend kindness and generosity to others. Instead of trying to pay everyone back when they are kind to us, we can keep the chain of love growing when we “pay it forward.” As we have been blessed, we can bless others. However, we don’t have to wait. We can be the ones to start the chain!
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He commanded that they follow His example and wash the feet of others. We have the same opportunity to show love and generosity to others in practical ways. When we humbly reach out to serve others, we are washing their feet. This is God’s plan for the body of Christ to show love and care for each other. In that way, the world sees our kindness, love, and hospitality, and ultimately, they see Christ through us.
When we give, we are demonstrating the character of God. He blesses us in return, and we always reap more than what we have sown. If we are to be like Him, we will give generously to others of our time, material possessions, money, care, love, talent, etc. We do well to observe a need and find a way to fill it without expecting anything in return. In this way, we can make a real difference in this world!
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:3 NIV
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:8-10 NIV