Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Parade time in our town, it's always a fun time, comes several times a year - and it's especially fun when you go with two young grandsons, which I have the privilege of doing. They love the fire engines and the siren going off. They love the marching bands and the floats, the candy ... especially the candy. A lot of the folks on the floats, on the trucks and in the cars throw out these big handfuls of candy. As it skips across the pavement, children descend on it like locusts descending on a wheat field. It disappears fast! I've learned to go to the parade with empty pockets. The boys scoop up the candy and I am their personal candy bank. And, of course, I do collect a small tax in the process!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Giving Out Goodies."
Those parade folks indiscriminately tossing out goodies to everyone around is actually a wonderful picture of how you and I are supposed to be living as Jesus' personal ambassadors to our personal world. Of course, it's not candy we're supposed to be giving out. It's something sweet, but it's something much more healthy.
God talks about it in 1 Peter 4:10-11, our word for today from the Word of God. Here's what it says. "Each one of you (notice, that's all of us, we're all included here) should use whatever gift he has received (we've all received some gifts to give) to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." There are the spiritual goodies we're supposed to be handing out to people - it's called "God's grace." Peter goes on to give a couple of examples. He says, "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength the Lord provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."
So whatever your gifts, whatever your personality, your mission as God's child is to be leaving behind God's grace in the lives that you're around each new day. We all got into God's family by His grace. It's His undeserved love and mercy toward us. So as the recipient of His grace - and now the one who passes it on to others - we're supposed to be treating people the way He's treated us, not the way they deserve. That's why God says, for example, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13) I'm going to treat you the way Jesus treated me, not the way you treated me!
You give out God's grace when you quickly forgive an offense, when you regularly offer words of encouragement to people, when you say or write your appreciation, when you treat each person with respect, when you help them see what they're going through from God's perspective, or when you remind them of a promise God has made.
The truth is, you're tossing out some kind of gift to the people around you. Maybe it isn't a sweet trail you're leaving. Are you throwing out sarcasm, wounding words, a negative attitude, coldness, or criticism? No follower of Jesus - no one who has been treated with such grace and love by Him - should ever leave behind that kind of trail of tears. We've been called to "faithfully administer God's grace" through our words and through our actions.
As the parade passes by the people in your world today, be sure that what you're throwing out is the goodies the Bible calls God's grace.