So I recently moved back from Georgia to Texas. The initial plan was to be in the DFW area, as that was what I was familiar with, but God had different plans, and He brought us to Austin. Both my wife and I were excited about the move, but we had some reservations. We didn’t have any immediate family in Austin, my friend group and the folks I grew up with were all in Dallas, I didn’t know the area too well, and I was indecisive on where to live, which church to go to, and how it would be living there.
God was quick to remind us of
his consistent faithfulness.
Just a few years ago, when Brittany and I got married, we started our married life in Augusta, Georgia. This was actually a more intense situation, as we were about 1,000 miles from our homes, without family and friends, and in a completely foreign environment that we had no familiarity with. Yet in that situation, God provided a church family and friends who were closer than our own family in a lot of ways. It was remarkable to see the true love of the body of Christ toward other believers play out in such a stunning way. They took us in as their own family. We immediately got involved in ministry, taking on leadership roles in various ways and building up relationships that can never be broken—because they were centered on Christ. The believers opened up their homes and lives, trusted us with their families, and treated us like their own.
I was thinking,
why was that the case?
Was it because they were just good people who had “southern hospitality”?
Was it because we were doing something for them that they were obligated to do something for us?
The only reason is because the love for their Savior was flowing out of them to us.
That wasn’t any power of their own, but rather the proof of the Holy Spirit working in their lives to reach out to us. By no means was it perfect, but it was much greater than any other secular relationship could provide. Yes, they are friends, but much more than that, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, which is a relationship that far exceeds any friend, coworker, or neighbor outside the church, because the basis of the bond is different.
Recently I was reading from 2 Corinthians, where Paul speaks to the Corinthian church about showing generosity and brotherly love to other believers:
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! | 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
We were so blessed to see all of this through our chapel in Augusta. Pure generosity with no reluctance or compulsion in giving, only complete cheerfulness. And what was the result? Was it done for praise or thanks for the good things they did? No! All glory belongs to God! This is only due to the power of God’s love through them. We could easily tell that this was not something in their own strength or power.
They were being used for God’s glory
to minister to us and us to them.
When it comes down to it, we don’t receive the credit for anything kind we do, but all the talents, abilities and kindness/generosity that God gives His children is used to turn around and glorify Him! What an awesome thought. Even the good works that come through us as the fruit of our salvation is not in our own power, but it is used to show how God can transform such lost sinners like us for His glory!
Fast forward to Texas. We had some connections to the chapel here but nothing concrete. They were friendships that we had made over time and kept in touch with occasionally. There was no obligation or responsibility for them to reach out to us or help us in any way. And yet, the day I came to Austin, several brothers from the church came out to help me unload the truck. It was during a weekday after a long day at work. They definitely didn’t have the free time available—they all had their own families and responsibilities to attend to. Yet through the busyness of life, they made the conscious effort to help plan, organize, arrange, and help me get settled in a place I was unfamiliar with. It may have been something they didn’t think twice about, but to be on the receiving end, it means quite a bit.
These folks didn’t get a heads up from my chapel in Augusta to help us with moving. They probably don’t even know any of them. But the strangest yet most familiar commonality is the attitude and behavior of God’s people through the body of Christ. What does that mean? It doesn’t matter where I would be moving to, which immediate family or friends I have in that location, or how familiar I am with the area. If there is a local group of believers in that area who love the Lord, it will immediately be realized, because God will always use His children to help and support the body! At the end of the day it will always be about Him and for Him.