Wednesday's Word

How do we use the gifts God has blessed us with?

If we truly step back and look at all the many ways God has blessed us, can we then recount how we in turn used those blessings to help others? Blessings we receive come to us not because we’re so good, but rather because God is so good. Many times, it seems, we are blessed far beyond any rhyme or reason. We may think we deserve the blessings we receive, or we may think we have worked hard and have earned them. In the quietness of our minds though, we hopefully acknowledge God’s role in what we have received and achieved.

Jane Bolin was born in 1908, and passed away in 2007. Jane had a pretty impressive career. She attended Yale Law School in 1931, and later became a judge. For the time in our history that’s pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? Let me add one other nugget to this story, Jane was African-American. She was the first Black woman to attend Yale Law School, and the first Black woman judge in all of the United States. I’m quite sure she had to work harder than others to prove her worth to attend Yale, and certainly to become a judge. “One of her significant contributions throughout her career was working with private employers to hire people based on their skills, as opposed to discriminating against them because of their race. She went on to serve on the boards of NAACP, Child Welfare League of America, and the Neighborhood Children’s Center.

No doubt, as hard as Judge Bolin had to work, she could have seen her achievements as having been earned. She saw them as a blessing, and her intention was to bless as many as she could along the path she journeyed.

In Luke 17:11-19 we find a story about Jesus encountering 10 lepers in the region between Samaria and Galilee. They all cry out for a healing, and Jesus complies. He tells them to go show themselves to the priest. They find on their way to being certified cleansed of leprosy, that they were in fact cleansed. Only one of the ten turns back praising God and thanking Jesus. That one, in fact, was a Samaritan. The Samaritan recognized the blessing that had occurred. The Samaritan knew the blessing was not of his own doing, but rather God’s. Jesus said to him “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Do you think the Samaritan believed he was cleansed, healed, blessed on his own merit? He acknowledged God had blessed him through Jesus. We don’t know where the Samaritan went from there. We don’t know who the Samaritan gave credit to for his healing. We don’t know who he told, or who he shared with from that moment on. My pretty good guess would be he not only acknowledged this blessing before Jesus, but I would believe every person he came in contact with he shared how he had been blessed. And if in fact, he understood what Jesus told him about his faith making him well, he was most likely wanting to share his blessing with others. I’ll even go out on a limb here and say, he was probably one of the most vocal in his community about the goodness of God.

We, each of us, need to acknowledge the blessings we are given. We, each of us, need to give God the glory, honor and praise for God’s work in our lives. We, each of us, need to then go forth and share our blessings with others. Judge Bolin did exactly this throughout her life and career. She shared the immense knowledge and skill she had been blessed to learn, so that others would also in turn be blessed. In a way, a blessing IS the gift that has the potential to keep on giving. One blessing can beget another, and so on as its passed to many.

Nothing so dramatic as being cleansed of leprosy may have happened to you, but I’m guessing there are some blessings which have come your way that have the potential to bless someone else.

Lord, we know and acknowledge we are blessed beyond measure. We know we aren’t as quick as we ought to be in giving you the honor, glory and praise for the many blessings we enjoy. Give us a humble heart to acknowledge your work in us. Give us the desire to praise you for what you do in us, and then propel us into the world to share the blessings you have so richly given.

Your fellow traveler on the Way,
Pastor Tom

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