Who deserves the thanks?
Last week we packaged up all the food collected for the Anglicare Winter Appeal from St Mark's and St Phil's - 26 fully packed boxes were delivered to be sorted and given to those in need in our communities. We do this each year in Winter and at Christmas because we recognise the needs in our communities. God is at work in us when we give for these purposes. The Holy Spirit is guiding us to be generous in these times.
In the early church, chapter 11 gives three really interesting moments of God at work:
21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
The Lord's hand was with them and people believed.
24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
Barnabas was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit. And people were saved.
29The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.
This is a little different to the previous 2. But people gave as they were able to help those in need during a famine - and people's needs were met.
When God is at work, people are saved, people are generous, and people have their real needs met.
It's very easy to pat ourselves on the back when good things happen from our church, but I think this chapter helps us to keep pointing and redirecting all that thanks to God. Whether people are being eternally saved, or having their hunger met by the generosity of God's people, we can be thankful to God for his work in us and through us. God himself is our means and motivation for giving our time and giving our resources for his work in the world.
I think we are mostly generous people in at least some ways. But I do also believe that God's work in us makes us even more generous - beyond our own human capabilities or limits. God's Holy Spirit is at work in us, using us as his instruments to provide for many human needs. He can also use us to be the instrument by which someone's human heart is changed. But he is the one we give thanks to, and who deserves all the glory. Perhaps this is the easiest and hardest part of the Christian life - not taking credit for the work God is doing through us, but being thankful that he has chosen to use us for His purposes.
This is worth wrestling with. Am I truly able to give God all the glory in my daily work, for my generosity, for my daily sacrifice? Am I willing to recognise that He deserves the glory?
As many of our church members step up to serve again for our vacation kids program this week, and in many other ways across Ermington and Eastwood, let's continue to be amazed and thankful that God would use us for his incredible and eternal purposes. It is certainly affirming when people recognise our contribution (and there's nothing wrong with that), but it's even more special when we turn and give all that credit to God who is shaping us to be more and more like Jesus.
Heavenly Father, thank you for using me for your purposes. Help me to continue to be generous with all you have given me so that your kingdom may be advanced. May I continue to direct the praise and thanks to you, the one who deserves all the glory. Thank you most of all that nothing compares to the amazing work you have done for me by sending Jesus to die so that I might have my sins forgiven.