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What’s in it for ME?

What’s in it for me?

Maybe you’ve never actually said those words aloud, but just maybe the question has crossed your mind when you’ve been asked to do something for someone.  I know that I’ve allowed the question to bounce around my mind more than a time or two when asked to give of my time, money, and effort.  None of us want to feel taken advantage of in a world where opportunists are rampant and agenda driven.

We all want to feel appreciated, valued, and respected.  However, I’ve been trying to reframe my thinking and change the internal dialogue.  I’ve found that it’s more productive to ask myself why or why shouldn’t I do a particular thing.  After all, we can all do things that look good.  For example, we can go feed the hungry, visit the homeless shelters, and give to countless charities for all the wrong reasons.  What motivates us to do the things we do is important.  When we examine our motives, we can make sure that we’re properly aligned with our God given purpose.

My dear cousin, Audrey, worked tirelessly to find out about our family history.  She discovered that our descendent, Frank Garrett Hinton, escaped slavery from a plantation in Kentucky to become a soldier in the 19th Heavy Artillery Unit of the Civil War.  When my family and I visited the memorial and saw his name listed on the African American Civil War Memorial, tears rolled down my face.  Frank, like so many others, risked his life for freedom.  I’m sure that he hoped that he’d be free, but I’m also confident that he wasn’t only willing to die for his own freedom, but for many generations to come.  He didn’t only think about himself but what was at stake for others.

Most of us have decisions to make that are much less grave and risky than those like Frank Garrett.  We don’t have to choose between slavery and fighting for freedom.  We may be asked to check on someone who is sick, or give to someone who needs resources.  When we’re asked for assistance, our first reaction shouldn’t be figuring out how we can benefit if we give.  Often times, people who need the most are unable to give back in a tangible way.

We also shouldn’t do things for others to be seen.  When we give, I believe it should be done without giving “props” to ourselves.  Matthew 6:3-4 says, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”  In other words, if we give to be seen, we’ve already received our reward.

When we give out of love and a pure heart, we don’t have to worry about what’s in it for us.  We always gain because the love of God fills us, replenishes us and allows us to keep giving.  As Christians, we understand that we are vessels of God’s love, peace, joy, goodness, patience, kindness, self-control, gentleness and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22-23).

If we are in position where we need finances, time, or anything else from someone, we have a responsibility to never take advantage of a person’s willingness to help.  It’s very destructive and abusive to manipulate people who want to help.  We should never feel entitled to get assistance, only thankful.  (Taking advantage of God’s people is very dangerous, and those who do it will reap what they sow.)

It’s easy to do good things when the benefits to us are obvious.  We usually willingly do these things.  However, when we’re asked to give when we don’t see what’s in it for us, it can be more difficult.  That’s when we need to pray and push past our flesh.  Prayer will help us to know if it’s something that God wants us to do, and meditating on His Word will help us to quiet the selfish ways that all of us sometimes have.  We can then give in love without wondering what’s in it for us.

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Kingdom Fit

Fitbit Force, Jawbone Up,  Fitbug Orb, Nike FuelBand SE

I have a new Fitbit, a wrist device that tracks steps, distance and calories burned (among other things), and boy, is it eye opening.  It not only tracks my steps per day, but it also allows me to view the steps of friends with the same device.  The concept is that by setting personal goals and accepting challenges from others, the Fitbit user will be motivated to get and stay fit.  I’ve noticed how much it’s beginning to improve my movement on a daily basis.  It’s also caused me to reflect on how much healthier I’d be spiritually if I used the Bible as our own personal tracking device as much as I use the Fitbit.

Just like the Fitbit allows the user to see how many steps are taken daily and monitors physical activity, we have a way to gauge and assess our spiritual growth, progress, and maturity.  Reading, knowing, and believing the Word is how we can regulate our spiritual fitness.  The Word allows us to see how many spiritual steps we’ve taken toward spiritual maturity.  We are instructed to “grow in the grace of the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  The Word also lets us know that we should strive to “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).  To know His will, we must spend time with Him in His Word and prayer.

We measure our growth by how closely our lives reflect the image of Christ and His Word.  When we don’t know, read or study His Word, we are automatically in a serious deficit.  Before I got the Fitbit, I could be in denial about how well I was doing with my physical activity, but now I’ve had to face the truth.  I need to get busy!  The same is true with our spiritual lives.  We can be in denial about where we are spiritually if we don’t ever take a self-assessment.  If we find ourselves constantly thinking, saying, and doing things that aren’t in line with God’s Word, then we need to make changes.  Otherwise, we are tossed to and from from the daily challenges and demands that life throws at us.

The Fitbit gives users the options of “friending” others and even challenging others to take the most number of steps in a day or week.  In this same way, we can help one another to grow spiritually by the words that we speak into one another’s lives, the prayers that we give, and the listening ear we offer.  We help one another by refusing to operate in our flesh and instead leaning and listening to what the Spirit is pressing upon us.  Just like we might accept challenges on the Fitbit, we should challenge one another with kingdom thinking, speaking, and building.

I believe that one of the most important keys to assessing our level of our fitness for the kingdom is measured by how we give God glory.  Our lives should be dedicated to giving God glory.  It is why we are here.  A host of verses address this, but I Corinthians 10:31, lets us know that in all we do, we should give glory to God.  If we find our prayer lives non-existent or stagnant, we need to take the time to pray, worship, and glorify God.  If we constantly excuse ourselves from attending Bible Study and church, for whatever reason, we need to recalibrate.  We need to prioritize corporate worship.  There are reasons why God instructs us not to neglect coming together in worship.  We show what’s important to us by the priorities we set.

Quite simply, our lives should be the mirror that reflects the image of Christ, and our kingdom fitness is much more important than even physical fitness.  I Timothy 4:8 says,   “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”  In others, we should prioritize our spiritual well-being above everything.  When we do this, we will desire to take care of our physical bodies.  Everything will be in its proper order.

I am thankful for my Fitbit because it’s forcing me to move, but I am even more thankful for God’s Word.  The Word forces me to move out of my selfish desires, motives, and ways to become more like Him.  Walking with Him is a journey that we know is worthwhile both now and forever, and our spiritual steps are immeasurable as we grown in grace with Him daily!

Blessings and Love,

MaRita