3rd February 2011

No Earthly Good?

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Hebrews 13:15-16 (NKJV)

It has been said, with more than a grain of truth, that some people are so ‘heavenly-minded’, that they are no earthly good! Maybe we have met people like that. But what about you and me?

I remembered this saying one day recently when I was travelling on a crowded bus. Rather than just stare into space, I decided to check the latest Day by Day on my mobile phone, which lets me read emails. What better way to lift my thoughts above the boredom of a routine bus journey? And maybe a fellow passenger would ask what I was reading and let me introduce him to Day by Day. (Anyhow, it might enhance my ‘commuter cool’!)

But I forgot how absorbing these studies can be, and didn’t notice a quiet voice speaking beside me. Then the voice spoke again, and I glanced up to see a small, elderly Asian lady looking straight at me. I still didn’t catch what she said, so she repeated it once again—softly, and with a thick accent.

As the cogs in my brain struggled to engage, I noticed another, younger, Asian lady who had heard the voice beside me, understood it, and pressed the bell to let the old lady get off at the next stop. Ah, now I understood! But I had missed my chance. True, my hearing isn’t 100 per cent, and the old lady was hard to understand. But if I hadn’t been so wrapped up in my personal Bible study, so engaged in my switched-on, smart-commuter self-centredness, maybe I would have recognised her simple needs sooner, and provided a minimal Christian response.

Of course mobile phones can be more of a curse than a convenience, depending on your point of view. But I saw a wider lesson, namely how easy it is to be so absorbed in our own legitimate interests—even Bible study on the move—that we fail to see someone under our very noses who needs our help just at that moment.

The book of James is very hard-hitting, particularly towards those whose faith is not as practical as it might be. In James 2:14 it says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” It is good to be heavenly (don’t neglect the Bible Study), but there are many earthly needs awaiting our response.

Great Father, in today’s incredibly busy world, please help me to be alert to opportunities every day to use small acts of kindness that might reflect, even in a small way, a little bit of your love, and the love of Jesus. In his name I pray.

Study by Gordon Brown 

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