Your Most Important Message By Dr. Gary G. Hoag
Your most important message often appears as the least significant!
As I navigate life, I realize the little things in life are really the big and important things. If I apply this idea to the many channels through which I receive messages, a keen insight emerges. At least I am learning this in my own journey. The most important message in my many in-boxes often is the one that appears the least significant. Consider three examples, then I want to credit the professor from whom I learned this and close with a Scripture that urges me to do likewise.
A Facebook message from Timothy, a former seminary student of mine
Timothy pastors a church in New Delhi, India. Recently, he sent me a Facebook message. He needed historical and cultural background on a biblical text from which he was slated to preach. I was busy when his message came. It took me a couple days to respond. When I finally replied, Timothy had come down with a high fever. He felt alone and discouraged. My note lifted him up. I answered his question and gave him something more, a prayer filled with hope. Just what he needed!
A WhatsApp message from Brenda, a woman who attended workshops I led last year
Brenda serves in Kigali, Rwanda. We met at the CMA conference in Brisbane, Australia, in June 2018. She came for training in Christian fundraising. I taught her to move beyond raising up gifts to raising up givers and pointed the way. She ranks among the most receptive soils in which I have ever sowed and has spread the teaching across Africa. In a recent message, she included a timely prayer and a reminder to find my strength from the Holy Spirit. I needed that!
An email message from Randy, a reader of my Daily Mediations
For nearly ten years, I have posted Daily Mediations to encourage Christian generosity. I never dreamed I’d have a sea of readers that to me would be total strangers and that could become the dearest of friends. Take Randy from Nashville, Tennessee, for example. We’ve never met in person, but at least once a week he replies to my daily post with a word of encouragement, a question, or a comment. I always respond. The relationship is mutually enriching.
What’s the lesson?
Treat every person as most important and discover unimaginable blessings go both ways.
I learned this lesson from my favorite contemporary author, C.S. Lewis. In Letters to An American Lady, I learned that he wrote over 100 letters to a woman named Mary whom he would never meet, but with whom he would correspond from 1950 until his death in 1963. The letters give us a special glimpse into his mind and heart.
He wrote of ordinary things from pipes freezing to toothaches and often included humor. “As for wrinkles – pshaw! Why shouldn’t we have wrinkles? Honorable insignia of long service in this warfare” (79). With each letter he tended to conclude with a prayer or blessing and signed them, “Yours, Jack.” How precious! He made time for a stranger.
In The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, we find that a set of topics dominated his messages in his younger years. In 1916, Lewis wrote: “I think you and I ought to publish our letters (they’d be a jolly good book by the way) under the title of lamentations, as we are always jawing about our sorrows” (95). Can you relate, at least as you reflect on your early days?
In our youth, we tend to focus on ourselves and complain in correspondence. We have to learn to make time for strangers. Following the thread of Jack’s life, the older he got, the more his fame grew. Letters piled up, but he still answered them. I love his last note to Mary less than two months before his death. “…I have all the mail to do. So you must expect my letters to be very few and very short. More of a wave of the hand than a letter” (132). In God’s providence, he got to wave goodbye.
The last words of the message of the Apostle Paul to Titus
In Titus 3:14-15, the Apostle Paul wraps up his letter to Titus with a profound and personal ending:
“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives. Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”
Paul’s most important message, his last words to Titus, was to urge the church in Crete to learn to devote themselves to serving God and others productively. We don’t figure this out early in life. We tend to focus on ourselves and our sorrows early in life. Only in time do we realize the people are what matter. Let us use messages to send love and greetings.
Treat even the most insignificant message you receive as the most important. Season every single message with the grace of Jesus Christ. Do this and discover unimaginable blessings will flow to you and from you to brothers and sisters in the faith.
Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D., serves as President/CEO of Global Trust Partners, the international accountability entity recently birthed by ECFA. He’s speaks and teaches all over the world and has written or contributed to ten books. He also writes daily meditations to encourage Christian generosity. Subscribe freely at www.generositymonk.com.
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