Matthew 16:25 – For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (NIV)
Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV)
At this time of the year when Christmas cards arrive daily, I am reminded of the many friends God has given me. I realize that if it weren't for His goodness, I wouldn't have any friends. I used to be so focused on my studies at Bible school that I didn't think I needed to take time to be with people simply to enjoy them. Our teachers urged us to take a daily walk, but I loved to study, and I felt it was more important to concentrate on my lessons. In spite of this, friends continued to invite me to accompany them.
One day they were especially insistent that I join them on a walk out to the country. I finally yielded, knowing that I needed the exercise. About eight friends went on this walk together, and I enjoyed laughing and talking with them.
Suddenly they stopped and gathered around me on the country road, singing "Happy Birthday". They then presented me with a gift, carefully wrapped. I was astounded and humbled that these fellow students cared enough for me to go to all that trouble. Then I realized that I had almost missed my birthday party because I was too wrapped up in my own concerns.
It was a good thing to be diligent in Bible study, but what kind of missionary would I have become if I could not relax and enjoy the people around me? God showed me that I needed to take time to listen to others and try to be a help and a blessing to them.
Sometimes God still has to remind me that I am useless to Him unless I am willing to bear people's burdens and show God's love to them by unselfish friendship. I've found that the more we invest in others' lives, the more dividends there will be, not only for our personal blessing, but mainly for the glory of God. When we try to save our time and energy for ourselves, we lose the real purpose of life, but when we give up our plans so we can minister to needy hearts, we find fullness of joy and satisfaction. Then God can use us to bring broken lives to Himself.
Christmas, for me, is a time to send encouragement and cheer to others, even though it involves hours of addressing cards and writing letters. I have found blessings flowing back into my life as I receive letters from dear friends across the world whose lives have touched mine. As we share together, the Lord blesses us all.
Prayer: Help us today, Lord, to focus not so much on our own plans but rather on people to whom you would have us minister. Remind each of us that we are part of the body of Christ and that we need others as much as they need us. Thank you that together we can build your church and glorify Christ. In Jesus' name. Amen.