The Upper Room Devotion for Wednesday, July 5, 2023, was written by Byron S. Wills of Oregon.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. James 2:14-17 NRSV
A SECOND CHANCE
It was a busy day, and I was at my church trying to fix a dripping faucet. I discovered I needed to replace a gasket, so I drove to the hardware store. As I entered the parking lot, I saw a man sitting on the curb holding a sign that said, "Hungry - Please Help." I had traffic behind me and I was in a hurry, so I didn't stop. As I left the parking lot, I saw the man again but still didn't stop.
Driving back to the church, I kept thinking about that man, and I felt compelled to go back and give him some money. But when I return, the man was not there. Looking around, I noticed an old, battered truck. The man I had seen holding the sign was inside, so I pulled over, rolled down the window, and asked him to come over - which he did. I gave him some money and wished him well. He thanked me, and I left.
As I left the parking lot, replaying what had happened, I was overcome with emotion. Surely it was God who had gotten my attention and encouraged me to help that man. I thanked God for this second chance and asked God to help me to be more attentive and responsive to those in need in the future.
At the end of our worship service, I offer the following word of affirmation and challenge: You are a blessing from God. Now go be a blessing. It is easy for us to receive God's blessings and to be reminded God thinks highly of us. The challenge arises when we must, in turn, be a blessing to others, especially those who have different life circumstances or upbringing. Yet, in the moments when we yield to God's call to bless others without thought or hope of recognition or reciprocation, then we tap in to an unmatched joy. Like Byron, we find fulfillment in being of service to God by being a blessing to others.
Loving Father, help us be more aware of those in need around us, and give us the desire and the courage to respond with compassion. In Jesus' name. Amen.
- Byron S. Wills