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“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” (Proverbs 3:27)

The story has been told of a young boy who had a sister with a rare, life-threatening illness not much older than himself.  Since the brother once had the same disease and developed antibodies, it was determined that a transfusion using the boy’s blood would be beneficial in helping his sister to recover. When the doctor explained the situation to the young child, he carefully assessed the brother’s willingness to participate. After processing what he had been told, he said, “Sure if it will keep my sister from dying.”  As the staff began to perform the transfusion, the boy rested in bed next to his sister. Thoughtfully looking up at the doctor, he spoke these words in a trembling voice – “Will I begin to die right away?”  Apparently through all of the detailed information, the boy thought he would have to give all of his blood thereby sacrificing his own life in the process. In his concern for helping someone whom he loved, he failed to understand that his own health would not be affected.  What a selfless act.

As we shed the innocence of childhood, we often become more selfish. At times, however, in the wake of a tragedy – there are some caring souls who surprise us. Florida resident Pam Brekke had spent days hunting a generator before 2017’s Hurricane Irma made landfall. For her, it wasn’t just a matter of convenience—it was a matter of life or death. Then she became aware that an area store had received a shipment of several hundred generators.  After driving over 30 miles to buy one, she took her place in line at the store to find that the person immediately ahead of her received the last one. Brekke started crying, thinking about returning home empty-handed to a father who would need oxygen if the power went out. But then, a random act of kindness. Without asking a single question, Ramon Santiago walked up to Brekke and handed her his generator. They hugged and Brekke thanked him for his act of kindness during such a trying time. She said, “God will bless that man.” Santiago later stated that he did “really believe that God played a role in all of this.” He affirmed what Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13).

The story is told in two separate accounts of the New Testament about an observation made by Jesus in the Temple as “he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has” (Luke 21:1-4). According to Mark 12:41, “Many rich people put in large amounts,” so they were bound to be noticed by others. However, Jesus emphasized what no one else saw – the humble offering of a poor widow. The placement of her few coins was the gift that was noted in Heaven out of the many who gave that day. She was the one who had sacrificed. What she gave was very little in comparison, but her faith demonstrated confidence that God would use it.

Contrary to what our culture teaches, this life is not about us. It’s about Him. The choice we make between selfishness and selflessness has an effect on every part of who we are and how we view life.  In our self-focused society, it has become easy to justify that selfless acts are extreme and unnecessary. We then grow comfortable and accustomed to doing the bare minimum in order to make ourselves feel good. It is only when we realize that all we have comes from Him that we can learn to silence our selfish ways. In his devotional classic, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers penned this thought: “We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender in every detail of our lives.” Jesus is our example. “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30). That is absolute selflessness. The boy, the man, and the widow each gave it a try . . . you can too!

REFLECTION: Do you consider others before you consider yourself, or do you often find yourself at the center of your own universe? When you woke up this morning, did you think about your day as belonging to you or to He who created you? Would you be willing to ask God to reveal and help you change areas of your life in which you are focused more on yourself than others?


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