Practical Proverbial, the Ten Commandments, 21 May 2014

You shall not steal. Exodus chapter 20, verse 15.

Ok, so we get it.   We shall not steal.   It’s one of the foundations of every peaceful society on earth. I travel a lot, sometimes between 150 and 200 nights per year.   Everywhere I go I watch the local news and hear about robberies, cars being stolen, and the like.   It’s everywhere, all over the world.   Does that make us, as mankind, better?   I think not, and I’m betting you would agree. Sometimes I feel that, wherever heaven is, Jesus must be shaking His head in disappointment at all our debauchery.

Isn’t it time that we changed that paradigm?

“From a distance;” do you remember that song?   It came out during the first Gulf War, in the early 1990s. From a distance, do you think God is watching us?   I do.   From a distance and up close both. And since God is watching us, wouldn’t it be a better place if, instead of conspiring ways to take from each other, we conspired on ways to share, be more generous, to give, and to help each other?   I’m not naïve: I know ours is a fallen world.   I know that all the pretty words, even all the ways we use to explain the 8th commandment, aren’t enough to quickly put an end to all the thievery we commit.

I’m not asking you to change the world. Just your part of it.

Let’s change the game. I’m challenging you to start right now, where you are, today, and walk the higher road. Today, find some way to be generous towards someone. Preferably it would be to a stranger but someone all the same. Pay it forward the next time you go to Starbucks. Give of your time to the people closest to you, whether they’re family, co-workers, or even strangers. Honestly try to help someone in whatever way they need it.   Start small, but start anyway.

Start because the commandment still stands as a reminder: we are not to steal.   Yet remember that, those beautiful words, Jesus is pointing us to a better way, to not just get hung up on the negative edge of that commandment but, instead, to listen to what He’s saying. What He’s imploring us to do. Instead of stealing, thou shalt give. Instead of taking from each other, how about we use today to find ways to do that?   Like I said, I’m not naïve; it won’t make the evening news, and it might not even be a very big thing.   But it will make a difference.   From the ground up, it will make a difference to someone, and that’s how movements for good should begin.   Beside, just like the song says, “God is watching us…from a distance.”

Lord, watch me, empower me, embolden me, live in my heart, and guide me to give as You want me to.

 

Read Exodus chapter 7, Pharoah’s hardens his heart, so the plagues begin…

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Practical Proverbial, from Ruth, 25 March 2014

He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town.  Ruth 3, verse 15.

  1. Do we try to be generous?

Do you remember “ER” the TV show?   My wife’s favorite character was the doctor portrayed by Anthony Edwards; you know ‘Goose’ from “Top Gun.”   On ER, he died of cancer.   The episode in which he died was filmed in Hawaii, where he took his wife and children to live out his final days in the place where he had been happiest.   Shortly before he died, his character was talking with his daughter, trying to put her at ease with the inevitable.   One of the lines from his final words stuck with me:  “be generous with your love.”

I know that’s just a tearjerker line from a TV show, that it’s only make believe.   But the question isn’t made up at all.   Are we generous with our love?   Please understand, I’m not here to guilt you out, or give you one of those corny Jesus-loves-you ‘but you know’ gotcha moments (though Jesus really does love you).   I am here to ask you if we’re being generous with our love, and if we really try.

Boaz was generous with Ruth, giving her much more food than her gesture of kindness merited.   Yes, he was falling in love with her, and yes God led him to do this.   Don’t lose sight of that because it matters.   Yet so does the generosity of his act.   He didn’t have to give as much as he did, but he gave it anyway.  It was kind for Boaz to give Ruth any grain, but he gave her six times what he could have, knowing it would be food she and Naomi could put to good use.

God the Father, Son, and Spirit doesn’t have to give to us generously every day, but He gives anyway.   If you don’t believe me, or if times really are hard for you, then please take a breath and say a silent prayer thanking God just for getting you through yesterday.  To complete a day, even if it was a tough one, is a victory for you and a generous gift from Jesus.

And He gives that generous gift to dumbasses like me.  And you.  And even to Anthony Edwards and his dying character from ER.   Spoiler alert:  the guy died on the show, and his daughter turned out ok, and the show completed its final run even without Anthony Edwards or George Clooney.  That’s a gift from God as well.

Father, thank You so much for all Your generosity, for all the gifts You give us, for giving life everlasting.

 

Read Ruth 3.

Are you generous?

Does your heart jump to giving or taking?

When was the last time you really talked with God about this?