He walked up to us as we were talking and greeted us. He held my hand after we shook hands, just long enough for me to begin to be uncomfortable with it.
As he sat down, engaged my friend in conversation and started talking to me, I found myself wondering why he was speaking the way he was. Words slurred together and didn’t make a lot of sense easily. I found out later that he had been this way for the past few years, after presumably having some sort of mental injury.
Not aware of this at the time, I was a bit uneasy, but decided to take my cues from my friend, who seemed to be unruffled by it all. The two spoke for a few minutes. He tried to include me, and I did my best to respond, but again, there was a difficulty in understanding what he was trying to say.
My friend got up and went into her house to get something, leaving the two of us alone. I was eating a small handful of freshly roasted cashews and there was a small mound of them between the two of us.
I remembered that it is polite to share if you are eating, so asked if he wanted any. He nodded, and waited for me to give him some. He must have thought I would take from the pile between us, because when I handed him some of my own, he stared at me for a moment or two. I wasn’t certain this was a good stare, and hoped I hadn’t offended him.
He started talking again, thanking me as he munched on his cashews. I couldn’t understand everything, but he continued to talk to my friend when she came back. After he had thanked us and left, I asked her what he had said, still slightly concerned that I might have offended him in some way.
She reassured me. “He said that you gave him the food from your own hand. The food that you were eating was already gone and basically garbage now. But what you had given to him would continue to give you a blessing in heaven.”
I have thought long and hard on this. It saddens me on the one hand, because if he believes as many do, then what he meant by that is that I’m basically building up my “heavenly credit”. It’s earning interest and that will help me when I stand to be judged one day. And the truly sad thing is that in some ways it’s close. Acts of love and service, even the small, everyday ones, do have eternal value when done for the glory of God.
When done for the glory of God, not when done to bring about my salvation and deliverance from judgement. The mentality of working, working, working for the pardon of God is a heartbreaking one when compared to the message that the work is already done.
On the other hand, it was a reminder to me. Even the little things that I do can have eternal value. Giving a handful of cashews, to the glory of God. Stopping by to say hi to my neighbors, to the glory of God. Wrestling through a math lesson with a frustrated child, to the glory of God. Talking to a friend about what Christ is teaching me lately, to the glory of God. Choosing to be faithful in the mundane, tedious and draining aspects of everyday life, to the glory of God.
These sorts of conversations shame me, and create in me a greater motivation. If those around me seek to act in love, service, generosity etc. in small part, or in large, because of their fear of judgment, how much more should I seek to be faithful in all of those areas because I know that I’m free from judgment by the work of Christ, and want others to know that as well. I love Him, therefore I seek His glory.