Live The Difference (Guest Post)

DH's Uncle Steve is a funny guy. He's a missionary currently living in Malaysia, and he keeps us updated re: daily life, spiritual life, etc. It's a pretty big deal when he comes stateside. In fact, he stayed with us for a few days right before Christmas. We are always glad for his company; as I said, he's a funny guy, intelligent and a pretty good listener, too, as evidenced in today's guest post. I just know that I'm not the only one who needs to hear this message.
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My church had their annual Vision Banquet recently. This is the time of year
when the church comes together, and the Pastors share what the Lord has done in
the previous year, and shares the vision and ministry goals for the upcoming
year. While I was not able to attend, I was given a DVD to take home and watch.

I was watching the DVD the other day, and listening to my Pastor, who was
saying, “This year, I am going to ‘live the difference’; it’s no longer about
me, or what I want, but how can I live my life to impact the lives of those
around me?” I took time to think about how I could live my life “differently”
and how I could affect those around me.

Later on, I was doing my devotions, and I read Matthew 5:41 “Give to him who
asks of you…” That portion of the Scripture just stood out to me. Give to
those who ask of you. I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty open-ended.” He did not
say, ‘give to the poor’, He was not specific, at least in this instance, on
‘where’ to give, He just said to give to anyone who asks you.

I really felt that this was the “Word of the Lord” for me for that day, and so
at the end of my time, I prayed one of those dangerous prayers: “Lord, help me
today to live the difference and to practically apply the Word You have given
me.”

Afterward, I got out into town and went about running my errands. On many days,
it is common for me to be approached by panhandlers, and this day was no
different. As I was walking to my car, a panhandler came up to me and asked for
some money, and I politely said that I did not have anything and walked away.
As I walked away, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my spirit, “Give to those
who ask”, “Live the difference.” I immediately knew that I missed an
opportunity to apply what the Lord had given me, so I repented and asked for
another opportunity to live out what I heard the Lord speak to me earlier that
morning.

The next day, I was again running errands, and again, I was approached by a
panhandler. I walked past him, but as he called out to me, I again heard the
Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Give to those who ask”, so I turned to him and said,
“How can I help you?”

He seemed to be genuinely upset and in need, and as he told me his story, I was
doing a mental check. I noticed that he was a little bloody (he said he had
been in a motorcycle accident), I thought I smelled alcohol on his breath, (I
wondered if he would take anything I gave him and buy alcohol), and he did seem
to be in distress. At the end of his story, I gave him a few dollars, and went
on my way.

As I walked away from him, I actually felt a sense of peace and joy; it is that
‘feeling’ you get when you know that you have pleased your Heavenly Father. The
Spirit whispered to me, “That’s how you live the difference.”

I learned a couple of things from this experience. For one, the money I gave I
did not miss. I had plenty, but it sure was a help to the person I gave it to.
I have to admit I walked away wondering what that money would be spent on, but
as I reflected on the Matthew 5:41, Jesus really did not say to put
“restrictions” on what you give; He just said to give to those who ask. Period.
End of story. No rules and instruction to who you give your money to, just,
“give to those who ask.” It is kind of liberating when you can give like that.

Second, living the difference is not necessarily doing “big” things for people
(although it is that too), but living the difference happens in small ways in
everyday life….if you allow it to. In addition, it seems that many times when
we “give” we are giving out of our abundance. I did not really “need” the money
I gave; I had extra, so it is not as if I had to do without anything.

Third, I realized that day that Jesus is more interested in me becoming more
like Him than He is in what I do for Him (What profit is it for a man to gain
the world but lose his own soul?). Yes, ministry is great, and what I do, I do
out of a heart of love and thankfulness, but at the end of the day, He really is
more interested in what is happening in me than He is in what I do for Him.
That day, I became a little more Christ-like. I reflected the image of my
Father a little more clearly.

My encouragement for you today is to ask God to help you live the difference
this week. Ask Him to show you how you can have an impact on someone’s life.
In big ways and in the small things of everyday life, we can have an impact on
the lives of those around us.

Steve
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