FCS staff is sharing thoughts on Hope this Advent season as we await the birth of the Christ child. Our Week 2 reflection is from President Jim Wehner.
I have been following Scripture readings for Advent this year. This week, I read Philippians 1:3-11. The Apostle Paul writes, “I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to the completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (emphasis mine).
I have been thinking about my need for His work of completion in my life.
I stopped for gas on my way to work. While waiting for the tank to fill, I stood by my car, looking at my phone and reading through multiple emails in multiple email accounts. I had a busy day ahead and even though it was just after 6 a.m., my mind was already on the demands of the day. I was startled from my mental planning when I suddenly realized someone was standing next to me.
The man - who had walked up without me seeing - was trying to catch my attention. He quickly apologized for startling me and intruding on my space. He had a rough exterior, but soft approach. I recognized that it was chilly and I could tell he was cold - he had most likely been outside all night.
He started with a story about being from out of town and down on his luck. I wish I could tell you more, but the truth is, I wasn't really listening. I was just looking for an opportunity to break into his story to say “no.”
The bottom line is that I don’t give handouts very often, especially if I do not have a relationship with the recipient. My one caveat to this guide is that I give handouts when I sense the Holy Spirit pushing me to respond, when compassion overrides my normal process.
As I drove off, I justified my decision with my personal rule: no handouts unless there is relationship. Relationship allows me to know the need is justified or even how the money might be used. Relationship also allows me to give in other ways. Maybe I can provide work. There is dignity for us both in that option. Maybe I can cover a meal or create a connection to resource providers who can address the deeper issues of need. My experience tells me this is the better way.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to the completion. We are all lacking. It does not matter whether we are in need or if we have resources to help others. We all share a need for the completing work of a Savior.
I am accustomed to listening to those in need and finding ways to help. And yet, it is tough to be in the process. I am not complete. I am distracted. I fall back on my self-created rules rather than listening to the whisper of the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the day, the One who began a good work must also complete it. I am so thankful that Christ does not wait for us to perfect ourselves.
As I drove away, I was deeply convicted. I heard my rationalizations, but it is difficult to justify lack of compassion at this time of year. I felt God had a good work to complete. So I spun the car around and returned to the gas station.