For my 31st birthday, I decided to write down 31 of my favorite proverbs, or wise sayings from the Bible that I had been studying. This year, I am hoping to take a deeper dive into each of them and share some thoughts on them with you here.
The picture above is from a Mission Trip that Tom and I went on to Honduras in 2008. The picture is of teenagers at an "orphanage". I put it in quotes because it is nothing like what comes to mind when I think of the word "orphanage". It was a dorm-style home built by one woman -- I believe a former nurse from overseas -- for those without families or with families unable to care for them. But it's not a sad place. It is a place of hope. In fact, the orphanage is called "Renacer" -- which means "rebirth". It was a new beginning for the kids there and when I asked one of the teenagers how he liked living there, he replied "me encanta" -- "I love it." This orphanage is a very large undertaking, but is a huge example of providing good from those who are deserving and those who are most on the heart of God: orphans. The whole trip served to remind me of how I should be. I hope I was able to help the people in the communities we served in some small way, but I feel like I had some big missed opportunities even on this trip.
For that reason and others, this is a proverb that really hit home with me. I don't think of myself as someone who intentionally tries to harm or hurt people. Neither do I think of myself as someone who intentionally withholds good from people out of selfishness, greed, or spite. However, I think I do it out of carelessness and improper thinking all the time. I may have a "reason" or excuse not to stop and help somebody, or I may just be too busy and pass by a need without even noticing or without a second thought -- at least, until it's too late.
I am a "rules" girl and I like to do things by the book, so a lot of unhealthy behaviors and actions I am able to successfully avoid. But not doing "bad" things is only half the battle. We were not only meant to avoid destructive behavior, but we are called to do constructive things to encourage, assist and uplift other.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.I feel like God lays a path of people and situations that we can attend to, and that he has prepared specifically for each of us -- but it is up to us to act on those opportunities. If we know this, and fail to do those things, that's a sin -- and I think in some cases it's a more serious sin than the sins of "commission".
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. --James 4:17When I first read that verse in the book of James, it really made me pause. I think about it often, and yet I'm still notorious for passing up opportunities to help someone in need -- sometimes in very simple ways. Indeed, some of the things that haunt me most from my past are not my actions, by my inaction. Does that reveal an apathetic heart? A heart that is more concerned with my own convenience? A lack of attention paid to those around me? I envy those who seem to have an intuition as to what people need. Smack me over the head with it, and it still might not sink in.
That's one of the reasons I wanted to focus on Just One Person for Christmas. Starting small, I think I can train myself to open my eyes and find joy in meeting the needs of those around me. It is often in my power to act, and when it is, I need to do it. Not put it off. Not make an excuse. Not brush it aside. This year, I am going to continue to challenge myself to simply pay attention. Sometime it's subtle clues that someone could use cheering up and other times it's an in-your-face situation where you have the opportunity to help or walk away and ignore. So I challenge you, too, to look around you, and be impulsive when acting on behalf of the good of others. It's not only good for others, it's good for your own soul, too.