Reciprocity. The Pastor recently gave an excellent sermon on this foundational principle. God rewards those who do His will, and the manner of his reward is to bless people in the ways they have blessed others. Give and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Sow righteousness and reap a harvest of blessings.
Of course, God is no heavenly ATM machine who rewards people who do good only so they can be rewarded. If your motive is earthly accolades or greedy accumulation, then you will get your reward in praise and stuff, but not in heavenly blessings.
Serving the Lord is kind of like Halloween Trick or Treating, I think. One year, full of greed for candy, and quest for adventure, my neighbors and I decided to go all out. We came up with creative ideas for Halloween costumes and enlisted parental aid in making our imagined outfits a reality. With my mother and father’s assistance and direction, we crafted 3 costumes based on the Muppets. Kermit was made from a cardboard structure overlaid with green felt and half a plastic baseball for eyes. Fozzy the Bear had a chicken wire structure overlaid with brown fake fur, topped with a porkpie hat and neck scarf. Miss Piggy was the most ambitious, with a cardboard structure overlaid with papier-mâché and hand painted in pink. They looked great! However, they also covered our entire heads and had only small holes for seeing. No matter, it was gonna be awesome.
We drew a map of the neighborhood and discussed and debated the most efficient route for maximum candy. We decided to head waaaay up the main road, several blocks from home and use pillowcases so we could really have a huge haul.
The long-awaited night came! We felt no need to head out early while the sun was still up. Time was not an issue. Up we trudged, block after block passing our friends collecting only in our neighborhood. Yes, the giant heads were kind of hot. Okay, my glasses were totally fogged up. But what enthusiasm we had!
When we finally began knocking on doors, people were amazed and delighted by our costumes. Our pillowcase bags began to fill up. With the foggy eyeglasses and limited vision, I began tripping over roots and landscaping. No problem. Our bags began to get really heavy, and we were still blocks away from home. No worries. Miss Piggy twisted her ankle in the fancy shoes she wore. We pressed on. Fozzy the Bear began to sweat so much his fur was getting soggy. But on we went.
Eventually we realized that we had to return home, only halfway through our route, to empty our sacks and get back out there. By the time we returned home, weary, sweaty and bruised, we sadly realized it was much too close to bedtime to head back out. Nevertheless, we DID have nearly a pillowcase of candy each!
The next day in school, we learned a sad truth. While we were far away collecting Peanut Chews, Milk Duds, Jawbreakers and gumballs, right on the other side of the street the new family that had moved in was handing out full sized chocolate bars and extra treats for kids from the street.
We missed it. We missed seeing our neighbors. We missed seeing our friends and walking around with them. We missed coming home and seeing more friends come to our door in their costumes. In our quest for more we got more of what turned out to be not so important and missed out on what we realized was really important to us. And we got sore muscles, chills, and bruises to boot.
When we serve God, we need to be sure that our goals and planning are from Him and for Him and not for our own purposes or praise. Even when our goals are good, and our planning is sound, if it is not in God’s timing or will, the odds of us ending up unfulfilled are high. We need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit so that when we receive our ‘marching orders’ we’re ready to get moving.
When we cheerfully serve, cheerfully give and cheerfully follow after God, with no motive other than to please Him, He will be faithful to provide us with strength, success and support. And these He will provide in amounts and in ways that we could never have imagined. Great is His faithfulness!
Wishing you lots of Halloween treats,