Yesterday during the sermon at church, the preacher asked, “What can a person who serves others expect as a result of that kindness?” He answered, “Abundant life.”
Over time, I have kept score on how givers vs. receivers fare. Givers sometimes stay or eventually become dirt poor or sometimes thrive. I suppose it rains on the just and the unjust.
Current commentary re: Jesus’ time asserts that His ministry was funded by a wealthy and prestigious councilwoman named Mary Magdalene. Here are my hypotheses: Out of respect for His benefactor, he (metaphorically anyway) collected green stamps to remain frugal. Or, perhaps he just enjoyed the sensory pleasure of licking and sticking the green stamps into the books.
In retrospect, I have noticed that some of the people who “serve others” are a touch OCD if not bordering on hoarders. They collected stories, well yes, of course – complete with self-righteous bragging and also memories – complete with glee and angst. But, dig a little deeper and you will find OTHER COLLECTIONS. My spiritual mentor displays over 100 nativity sets at Christmas. My hunch is that she pets them when she is experiencing holiday stress. My late analyst moaned and groaned over the zillion ceramic figurines parked on her table, “dust magnets!” But, she talked about them as if they contained soul sparks. I must confess, I have a few prized masks and reindeer figures myself.
Let’s face it, often our emotional balance sheets get catywampus. We totter on the tightrope of over-giving and under-receiving. I once dreamed that my hair was on fire (burnout!) Seldom do recipients of our generous hearts send Hallmark cards, place laurel wreaths on our splendid heads or lift us over their heads to march through town singing our praises. There are always those who bite the hand that feeds them. Somehow, disgruntled “users” or even “helped people” showing gratitude for Jesus’ miracles and caring rarely made it into the Bible. Fortunately, we are told Jesus went off to recuperate now and then, modeling the need for rest.
Take note, ye students of empirical research. If you tally the number of behaviors of kindness toward others (e.g., helped a little old lady across the street), and number of items in a collection (e.g., knick knacks) and match it against a behavioral assessment checklist (i.e., emotionally threadbare vs. genuinely living an abundant life) what might you discover? (Warning – leave my masks and reindeer alone.)