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May 19, 2015

Eight Year Old Compassion

I was humbled by my 8 year old son today…humbled in a way that makes me proud and gives me hope.

I think every parent from time to time worries about their kids being self-centered. I constantly remind all 3 of my children that the world does not revolve around them and that the rest of the family does not exist for the sole purpose of making sure all their hopes and dreams come true. There are times my kids say or do things that make me shudder and I feel like a complete failure as a parent (mainly because I see myself and my shortcomings flow so naturally from them… it amazes me how my bad habits seem to be picked up so much easier than any good ones I might have). There are times when I feel like a broken record and think I could have almost as much success talking to and teaching/training the stack of firewood on my back porch. Then, there are days like today, when I see/hear my kids do something that not only makes my heart smile – but makes me realize that maybe, just maybe, I am the one who is self-centered. You know those moments… the ones where your kids teach you more then you could ever hope to teach them…

So here’s the moment – My son comes up to me and asks me about his Christmas money (along with some other money he has been given over the past several months). It totals somewhere around $220.00… yes, my 8 year old has more expendable income than me, I’m thinking of charging him rent… but that’s not the point. He asked me where his money was and I told him, “It’s in the bank.” I then had to explain to him what a bank was and why we give them money (especially HIS money) – I love the fact that kids just think that bank drive throughs and ATM’s just give you money because you ran out… wouldn’t that be nice. So after this explanation he asks if we can get his money out of the bank tomorrow – to which I responded how every parent would respond – “Why in the world do you need $220.00? You’re 8!!!” (I didn’t say that last part, but I did think it) I was ready to hear about a new Mine Craft game or an X-Box – BUT – that’s not why he wanted it.

He goes on to tell me that a boy in his class at school has a mom with cancer and they have spent all their money on medical bills. This little boy’s dog died and he wanted a grave for his dog but he told Nixon they couldn’t afford it. So my son – who I wonder sometimes if he hears a word I say – who I worry about being self-centered – asks me if we can give all of his money to this boy and their family because they don’t have much right now… needless to say, it got pretty dusty in the room right after that… He went on to explain to me that we have plenty of stuff, that he doesn’t really need anything else, and that he thinks it’s just the “right” thing to do… He wanted to use what he had to be a blessing to someone else… Now normally, I would try to turn this into a teaching moment – I would try to explain to him what compassion is and that it’s a good thing – but somehow, I think he already gets it…

So – as I chewed on this throughout the rest of the day it got me to thinking – How many times do I use what I have been given to be a blessing to someone else? Because that is why God gives us gifts… that is why God blesses us… that is why God created us – to be distributers of His Grace, of His Mercy, of His Love, of His Compassion, etc… yet many times I find myself we find ourselves hoarding what God has freely given us, hanging on to it, using it to feel better about ourselves, using it to make us feel significant/important or feel like we matter – and we miss it… we miss the very reason God made us the way we are!

Because God has a way of driving things home to me (I can be a little slow sometimes), the place of my “Bible Reading” last night was Romans 11 and 12 – if you’re not familiar with Romans 12, well, I’ll just post it here for you… take the time to read it – like really read it – I’ll BOLD some of the verses that stood out to me in light of what I was thinking through…

    ROMANS 12
    12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy,in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

    9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

As you go through your day, be mindful of where you are and who you come in contact with – Maybe God is up to something and you have an opportunity to be a distributer of His love, grace, or mercy – maybe you can bring joy in the midst of someone’s pain, maybe you can meet a real, tangible need… Always remember, His grace inspires and empowers us to be who He created us to be, and that’s the journey we’re all on!

May God continue to be your treasure (Matthew 13:44-46)

Written by Pastor Glenn Quirk