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Barbara Smith reflects on our gifts that God has given us and how we could honour Him with them.

“Jesus said unto him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’”

— Matthew 19:21, NASB

Achieving a goal feels extremely good. Think about the sense of accomplishment you feel when you complete the items on a “to-do” list. Matthew 19:16-22 relates an accomplished young man’s exchange with Jesus about obtaining eternal life. “Teacher,” he asks, “what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” As their dialogue continues, Jesus challenges the young man — who is no doubt accustomed to attaining his goals — to embrace the uncomfortable, to live selflessly and empty himself of what many consider valuable. “Come, follow me,” Jesus implores.

There are times when we seek answers from God, and His response might not make sense to us. Often, God’s plan shifts our attention away from ourselves and toward serving others. Philippians 2:3-9 is a good example. When we have more than we need, we have more to offer others. Jesus invited the rich young ruler to trade his materialistic drive for an open-handed journey of faith, but at that call, the young man took a sorrowful exit. Those awaiting compassion, justice and mercy would have to wait for someone else. Did the young man fail to remember that when we show kindness to others, we are actually lending to God Himself — the God who promised to reward us? See Proverbs 19:17. God is faithful to all His promises!

What we acquire in life should produce more than self-contentment. Our personal triumphs should compel us to create victories for those lacking the means to secure hope on their own. Most importantly, these successes should motivate us to honor God. We might not be asked to sell all our possessions, but Jesus is calling us to follow Him. That faith journey enables us to discover what truly pleases God; it gives way for His Word to transform our lives. This faith journey shapes the way we regard the needs of others. It leads us to self-sacrifice. Are you available?

PRAYER
Father, thank You for every blessing and success You have gifted to us. Teach us how to honor You with these gifts. When You call us to invest in what is truly valuable, may we make ourselves available to humbly follow You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

FOR DISCUSSION
1. Share a time when you experienced the reward of “lending to the Lord.” (See Proverbs 19:17.)
2. How can God use our accomplishments to give hope to those who need it most?
3. As Jesus calls us to self-sacrifice, what steps can we take to follow?
4. Read Luke 6:38. How does this passage motivate availability to service and self-sacrifice?

By Barbara Smith, youth volunteer engagement specialist for Habitat for Humanity International in Americus, Georgia.

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