Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. This is the time of year when I take a deep breath and turn my focus from the crazy end-of-summer fun to the gentle and blessed season of thankfulness and generosity. So take a breath, shrug off your stress, clear your mind, and come along as we walk the path of a thankful response to a generous God.
In thankfulness, I look around and re-engage in the beauty of nature and the joy of community. When I take a walk there is so much to see, even in the concrete jungle of our cities. And I say thank you, God, for helping me see You in all that is around me.
God is truly a generous giver. And in that spirit of generosity, I find myself looking for ways to give of myself. In Doctrine and Covenants 163:9 we are told: “Eternal joy and peace await those who grow in the grace of generosity that flows from compassionate hearts without thought of return.” Giving generously of our time, talents, treasure, and testimony - that is a life that embraces whole-life stewardship.
The gift of time is unique for each of us because we are the only ones who can give it. Time is precious and cannot be stored up like grain in a barn. Once a day is gone, it is gone forever. But does that mean we must fill every hour with a long list of tasks? Looking at my To-Do List, I feel the need to answer that question with a, “Yes”. However, that is short-sighted. It is the Martha in me (Martha, of Martha and Mary). God wants us to slow down and be like Mary. God wants us to spend time with Him, build our relationship with Him, and draw him into our minds and our hearts. Let the Martha in you make room for Mary.
Have you ever truly assessed your talents and gifts? Do you think you fall short? How about your “Mary” qualities? Do you listen as a friend shares? Do you offer a smile or word of encouragement to a stranger as you pass? If you are like me, it is hard to slow down. On Saturday we had the mission center’s Women’s Gathering and we were provided a preparatory booklet of spiritual practices. I started to rush through those about 45 minutes before the gathering began.
Soon I found myself slowing down, allowing my vision to clear and become more focused on my journey in life and what I could offer in God’s service to my neighbor. God gives us talents and gifts to use for enriching the lives of others and in that, we serve God.
When we address giving generously of our treasure, we can think about opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those neighbors whom Jesus tells us to love. Look at the poor widow who could only put 2 small coins in the temple offering, but whom Jesus pointed out was offering more than the richest people who gave only that which they felt was from their excess. Give generously without looking for reward. In 2 Corinthians 9:12-13, “What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God’s people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else.”
The last element in our whole-life stewardship is testimony. How can you spread the message of Jesus, the Peaceful One? You say you are not a preacher? Don’t forget, action is louder than words. All that you do, in even the smallest ways, makes a difference. Be the yeast that makes the dough grow. Be the seed from which springs a mighty oak. In Josh Wilson’s song, “Dream Small” it is the little things that change the world. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOBaLrItEyc)
Prayer: O, Heavenly God, we come in thanks for all things. Help us to see the world with our eyes opened to your generous hand. In thankfulness, may we dedicate our lives to being stewards and caregivers of your creation, realizing that in even the smallest ways, we are your hands and feet. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.