Hey Everyone! I’m Roger Hamilton and I oversee the training and development of our Eagle Lake staff. I have been with the Navigators for 33 years! I love helping our staff grow in their knowledge and love of God and the Bible. One thing I don’t like are blogs. So, I prefer to call it a B-Log, as in Bible log. I’ll be back as your trusty Eagle Lake B-logger every other week, at least until you get sick of me. Did you miss the last post? Read it here!
What’s in it for me when I have to get beyond my own needs and look out for someone else?
We had a blizzard here in Colorado a couple weeks ago, so my two high school sons got an email from the baseball coach. The gist of the message was, “since we can’t practice and you need a workout, grab a shovel and bless your neighbors.” Four driveways later, we were blessed that we served and our neighbors were thankful.
It reminded me of Proverbs 11:25: “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
I know what you’re thinking when you see that verse: Here’s a guy that works with a Christian ministry and he wants to talk to me about generosity. There’s probably a donate button at the bottom (there’s not!). That kind of reaction is both understandable and unfortunate. There is WAY more to appreciate in this verse, and the topic of generosity goes way beyond money.
A second unfortunate interpretation of the first phrase is that people think, “Oh good, if I give more I’ll get more.” I don’t see that supported in the rest of Scripture. In Acts 20:35 Paul remembers “the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Do I really believe that?
When we’re generous with our time, talents and treasures, God does something in us that transcends material things. And remember a proverb is a general principle, not a categorical promise- there is a difference!
That’s why I want to focus on the second half of the verse. When we refresh others through noticing and meeting their physical, emotional, relational or spiritual needs, we feel refreshed. We feel good when we’ve gotten beyond our own needs and concerns (valid as they are) and focus on others. It’s really the positive answer to an otherwise dangerous and selfish question: “What’s in it for me?”
So let’s ask that dangerous question! Really God, what’s in it for me when I have to get beyond my own needs and look out for someone else?
Take a look at these examples from the book of Acts:
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” (Philemon 7) The Apostle Paul wants Phil to know that the way he has ministered to others in Colossae has not gone unnoticed and is deeply appreciated.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:36-37). Joe’s act of generosity and sacrifice gets noticed by the apostles, and they give him a nickname! It’s the first of many examples of Barnabas living up to his new name. Check out the way he “refreshed” the new believer Saul (Paul) all the way to the redemptive story of John Mark.
We don’t have to look very far these days to find people who need to be refreshed. What if we asked God to help us connect with someone today who needs our encouragement? And what if we were actively looking for those opportunities? Wouldn’t that be refreshing? Sorry, I couldn’t resist!
Read questions and Journal!
- What is the difference between a proverb and a promise? Is that distinction important as we study the Bible and bring our needs before God in prayer?
- Do a character study of Barnabas. There are 33 references to him in the book of Acts. You can look them up and write down your observations, or use this resource: Link to PDF
- If you want even more fun, compare Barnabas in Acts 4 with Ananias and Sapphira in the very next chapter. What a contrast!
- Read Philippians 2:1-11. How do Paul’s exhortation and Jesus’ example encourage us to look out for others?