What Did You Do With What I Gave You?
Luann Prater

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

"How can I make sure she doesn't become self-absorbed as she grows up?" a young mother asked me as we munched warm chocolate-chip cookies.

Our culture struggles with the "I wants." When children receive "things without strings" they begin a life of self-centered discontentment. Adults, in an effort to find happiness, reach for whatever they don't have, thinking that thing must be what is missing. In the United States we often convince ourselves that our wants are really needs.

I had the privilege of joining my Proverbs 31 Ministries sisters on a trip to Ecuador to visit the Compassion International projects. We came face-to-face with real poverty, real needs and real happiness. Many moments will remain etched in my memory, but two stand out as a glaring disparity to life as we know it.

First, we visited a family with three children who live in a block home, tin roof, dirt floors and have only one bed. I asked the parents if they could have just one thing what would it be. They thought about it, discussed it, then said, "We have everything we need."

Wow! Are there many in the U.S. who would say that? Furthermore, I wonder if the response in this country would be, "Only one thing?" They have the love of their family and more importantly the love of a God who fills their desires.

Second, I met Jonathan, a college student from a family of eight who is a Compassion International sponsored child. He is studying to become a math teacher. When asked why he chose that path he said, "The boys in my village drop out of school when they become freshmen so they can work and help support the family. I want them to know that if they continue on and learn math it can open many more doors in their work life. I also know that one day I will stand before God and He will ask me, 'What did you do with what I gave you?' I want to help change the reality in my own world."

Wow! This young man has been given an opportunity for a different life and now he gives back.

So, back to my conversation with my friend as we were eating cookies. My answer to this young mother was, "Go on mission trips, help the needy, sponsor a child and serve others." When we serve, the focus shifts from self to selfless. It is only then that the resemblance of Christ can be seen in our reflection.

How will we answer the question, "What did you do with what I gave you?"

Dear Lord, we are so blessed and yet we often live with impoverished hearts. Fill us with the Spirit that encourages us to go, to serve and to bind up the brokenhearted. Empty us of self so Your reflection can shine to others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford

Sponsor a child in need through Compassion International

Watch a brief story of our journey to Ecuador.

Visit with Luann on her blog and her radio show “Encouragement Café” website.

Application Steps:
Give up eating one meal out a month and prayerfully consider sponsoring a child in need through Compassion International.

What self-centered thing occupies my time?

How can I increase my efforts of serving others?

Who around me needs God's love to flow through me and onto them?

Power Verses:
Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (NIV)

Mark 12:30-31, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV)

© 2009 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Kathy said...

That verse was the VBS memory verse for the class I taught. It's not amazing that many of our children do not know who their "neighbor" is. That was a topic that took much more time than I anticipated that day. Do any of us really know our neighbor? Do we care?
P.S. Couldn't find you yesterday, was glad to see Prov. 31 up today!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

if we can truly see people when we open our eyes and be able to eat a good meal three times a day; and speak with love as we open our mouth, walk and run the race with our feet, breath some fresh air as we smell a beautiful flower, touch and hug someone we love. we have more than what we need and more blessings to praise God at all times--psalm 34:1
sometimes, we want more to complain when we don't need it more than we want to praise God at all times, because God is good all the time!
He gave me unconditional love and by His grace I give Him all the praise, glory and honour He deserves! :)

Blogger Wendy Mueller said...

What perfect timing! I sat down today feeling frustrated with my children's selfishness and self-centeredness. After a good cry, I prayed and emptied my heart before God asking Him to guide me in ways that I could direct my children properly. I felt let to sit down and read today's devotional on P31. I could hardly believe my eyes when Luann was speaking on exactly where my heart was going.

What a wonderful and gracious God we have!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found your daily devotional the other day. I have been getting on and reading it daily. I occasionally go back and read previous days. This is one that really got my attention. What would I answer if God were to ask me this question? I know that we need to be doing what we are called to do on a daily basis. This means to me that I give more then I get.
We almost lost our home during the financial struggles with our economy. I had just finished nursing school and we had 1 month before our home would be forclosed on. I was stressed out and worried for my family. A friend asked me to go to pick up her chickens in another town and she told me that she had heard of a job opening. I prayed and then applied for the job. I was called and told I got it. Then with only 2 weeks until forclosure, I prayed and told God that if we lost our home, I was ok with it because I still had my family and my health. The mortgage company called that afternoon and told me about a loan program the president had put into place and asked if I wanted to apply. I said yes and when we were done she told me I qualified. I not only got to keep my home, but my payments are lower and my interest rate is now a fixed rate at 4.9%.
God can bless you when you are doing the right things. I could give up my home because it is just a building. I am a nurse at a local clinic now and giving back to my community on a daily basis. I love my job and the receptionist in the office with me is a Christian. We listen to Christian radio all day and I am blessed beyond belief.

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