Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “do good”

A NEW YEAR’S CHALLENGE

I noticed something odd this Christmas season. I don’t love to shop, so I don’t go to very many stores. Plus, online buying has become quite popular with me. But when I did visit a few stores here and there, I noticed something. There were far less Salvation Army bell ringers this year than in years past. Years ago, it seemed like there were bell ringers nearly everywhere you’d go. Men and women from all walks of life would be out there ringing their bell right beside that red bucket. Some would ring vigorously. Some would ring with some rhythm and actually move and groove a little while they were ringing. Some would be very chatty and gracious as you entered or exited the store. And then some would stand there, ring quietly, and hardly acknowledge the passersby. But this year, they were few and far between. Truth be told, I kind of missed hearing the ringing.

But there’s another thing I noticed this year along with the fewer bell ringers. This is not a new thing, but it was perhaps the first time I actually paid attention. Even though there were far less of them, the sign that sits atop the red bucket caught my eye. The sign has the big red Salvation Army logo, which is quite recognizable. But right below the logo were the words “Doing the Most Good.” That struck me. About 10 years ago, they evidently adopted this new brand “Doing the Most Good.” (Yes…and I just now noticed the sign. If you didn’t know, I’m behind the times, and oblivious to most things.) The idea of the brand came from the co-founder Evangeline Booth who wrote a book that was published after World War I. In the forward, she said, “…there is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need.”

Where some people have taken offense to the brand, or motto, or slogan (or whatever you want to call it) because it sounds arrogant, I actually like it. I like it because of the challenge it presents—the reminder to be intentional and have a purpose when we’re helping, serving, and doing for others. The question isn’t where can I do good? The question is where can I do the most good? What a great challenge for us all!

The image of the sign which reads, “Doing the Most Good” has been etched in my brain the last few weeks. I even see Salvation Army trucks about town now with the same words written on them.

What would happen if we approached 2018 with similar personal motivation? What would happen if we were reminded day in and day out not to just do good, but to do the most good? What would happen if we were to ask ourselves these practical questions:

  • Where can I serve this year to not only have impact, but have the greatest impact?
  • Who can I invest in this year to not only bring significance, but bring eternal significance?
  • What kinds of things can I do this year to not only bring change, but lasting change?
  • How can I give of myself (or time, money, effort) this year to not only bring worth and value, but bring the utmost worth and value?
  • How can I be involved this year to not only produce transformation, but produce long-term transformation?

Friends, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Let us rise to the challenge. Let us be intentional. Let us set forth in 2018 with purpose. Let us do what we were created to do. Let us consider ways, places, and people to serve by doing the most good.

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DISHING ON DIFFICULT PEOPLE

I was being kind and compassionate and was prepared to go out of my way to be helpful. Then he bit my head off. I immediately thought, “Thanks for nothin’ there, bud!” I always go the extra mile in the respect, caring, and kindhearted department with this guy. And what I get in return is short, impatient, disrespectful responses. He grunts, he groans, or he growls at me nearly every time. He’s crusty. He’s rough around the edges to say the least. He once told me that when he dies he’s “going straight to hell because he’s one mean son of a bitch.” (Yep, that’s a direct quote from him.) Ever since he made that declaration, he’s been on my heart. For whatever reason, this week when I reached out to help out with my normal positive, considerate approach, and when he bit my head off, I thought to myself, “I’m done! I’m over you, dude! Game over!”

Later, another gentleman (not sure he really deserves that title if I’m being honest) told me he didn’t like me one bit at all. (What I really wanted to say was, “Yeah, the feeling is mutual!”) He let me know I was terrible at my job and that I needed to get with the program. He then stated that he didn’t like being around me and told me to go away. Apparently not long after we met I ticked him off. He doesn’t look at me, speak to me, or acknowledge me in any way. I say hello to him every time I see him. I ask him how his day is going. And he pretends that I don’t exist. Until this week. When I got an earful. And again, I thought to myself, “I’m done! I’m over you, dude! Game over!”

head buttWhen I deal with difficult people, my motto (and self-talk reminder) of the last several years has been, “Just kill ‘em with kindness.” But after this week, my new motto just might leave off the words “with kindness.”

“Bless those who curse you,” He said. I’d like to think Jesus was plum crazy or maybe on something when He challenged His listeners in this way. But that wasn’t the case at all. He was always taking what was right-side-up and turning it upside down. Or perhaps better to the point, He was always taking what was upside down, and turning it right-side-up. Paul reiterates Jesus’ words by adding, “Bless and do not curse.” Then Peter adds his two cents by saying, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing…”

I think Jesus initiated these words because He knew that life was a grander story than just mere moments of insults and ingrates. He knew that He was part of a bigger story than the one written in the heat of the moment of disgust or displeasure with an individual. Not only was His story bigger, but so was that of the insulter, the attacker, the persecutor, the difficult person. And if He could weave kindness, compassion, grace, and mercy into their story, maybe it would awaken them to the bigger story they were a part of but just didn’t know it.

“Love your enemies,” He said. Why would I want to love them when they don’t return the sentiment? Loving them is an investment that doesn’t produce any kind of return, other than frustration on the part of the one giving the love. But this is what we’re challenged to do. To participate in God’s story–one in which He is speaking and acting. A story of unconditional love. And grace. And mercy.

“Love, do good, help, and lend to those difficult people in your life,” He said. Those difficult people in our lives aren’t problems to fix. They’re people. Made in the image of God. People to love. People to serve.

Jesus also added these words, “…expecting nothing in return.” That’s where it gets real. That’s where it gets raw. I want progress in return. I want a glimpse of something positive in return. I want my effort to mean something, to make an impact, to influence…and see evidence of it.

God says to all of us, “It’s not about the return. It’s about the story. I am writing your story just as I am writing theirs.”

So…we gear up, we armor up, we fill up and prepare ourselves to spill out love and blessings to those who curse us, our enemies, the ungrateful, the selfish, the hateful, and the mean-spirited. And we know after all the spillage, our bucket will indeed be empty. (Jesus probably experienced this on a regular basis.) But we go straight back to the Source to refuel. The Author of our story. The One who invites us to participate in it as best we can. By loving…doing good…and blessing.

 

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