December 4, 2018
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35 (NIV)
My mother was raised on a farm in the Southern region of the United States. During my growing-up years, I often heard my mom use an expression sometimes spoken by folks native to that region: "Well, bless their heart."
My mom uttered this saying when referring to someone who was sad or hurting. If the neighbor girl took a tumble sledding, skinned her knee and then began to cry, my mom would utter, "Well, bless her heart" before scooping up the child and then offering a cup of steaming hot cocoa to help her forget the pain. However, there's another way this phrase is more typically used.
The expression, "Well, bless their heart" is also invoked when trying to convey that someone is totally clueless; it's a way to point out that they are completely oblivious, without using unkind words to say so. In fact, my adult daughter, who herself now resides in the South, seems to have streamlined and shortened this idiom. When she encounters such a situation, a smile slowly forms on her face as she sweetly declares, "Oh, bless."
I'd actually like to offer a third meaning to this idiom. Not a way to describe someone's sadness. Not even a method to refer to their cluelessness. Instead, what if we made this saying an ongoing goal of our relationships?
When we think of those God puts in our path - wondering just why they're in our lives - let's imagine Jesus giving us the directive: "Well? Bless their heart!" Might we think of the Lord urging us to gift them with a word of encouragement, some needed physical help or a simple gesture of kindness, especially during this time of year? We can give in a way that will bring a genuine blessing to their heart.
In Acts 20:35, we see the Apostle Paul bid farewell to some of the leaders of the church at Ephesus. His final advice to his friends ends with these words, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
On the surface, this quote from Jesus seems completely backward. How can it be better to give something away rather than grab something for yourself? But Jesus' admonition is an upside-down but beautiful truth - if you want to bring yourself joy, then seek to give to others, for it's in losing your life that you truly will find it.
This Christmas season, will you decide to not rush by the people who naturally intersect with you in life, dashing to check off yet another task on your crowded December to-do, to-buy and to-make lists? Instead, will you give of your time, resources or words in order to bless another soul, just as Jesus urged us to? It might be a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even a complete stranger. There's no shortage of people in your life who could benefit from your kindness as you give of yourself to them.
When you do, you'll discover that it really is more blessed to give than to receive. When we serve Jesus, by living according to His giving-instead-of-getting philosophy, we not only uplift the spirits of others and bless their hearts, but the boomerang of blessing comes right back to us.
Father, may I go through this Christmas season not looking to get, but looking to bless others with Your love as I encourage their hearts and help lighten their load. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 9:7-8, "Each person should do as he has decided in his heart - not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work." (CSB)
If you want biblical inspiration and practical ideas for blessing others in your life with the love of Jesus, grab a copy of Karen Ehman's book, Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think through the people you encounter during the Christmas season. Are there one or two who come to mind that you could reach out to bless, in an effort to "bless their hearts" with the love of Jesus? Make a note on your calendar now stating what you will do.
Have an idea of who and how you're able to bless someone this season? Feel free to share your ideas (or borrow some!), and join the conversation in our comments section.
© 2018 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.