When we experience a blessing from God, do we tell other people about it?
The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus delivering a man named Legion of many demons. Luke reports, “For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. Many times [the evil spirit] had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains.” (Luke 8:26-39) Matthew reports that he was so violent that none could pass where he was.
After Jesus had delivered him of many demons, the man begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus said, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”
Jesus calls us to be a witness to him and his action in our lives. (Acts 1:8) The psalms and St. Paul encourage us to give thanksgiving in all circumstances. (Psalm 100:4; 1Th. 5:16) So, how do we tell people what God has done for us without sounding prideful or boastful?
Jesus alluded to this question in his Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector wherein he warned the disciples about being self-righteous. The Pharisee prayed about what he had done, thanking God that he was not “like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like the tax collector.” He went on to say, “I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” Jesus then said, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Jesus declared that it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went home justified before God. The Pharisee was not thanking God for what God had done in his life, but rather what he, the Pharisee had done – a self-described righteousness.
As I write this week’s post, I am completing my 79th year and there is so much that “God has done for me” – loving parents who gave me a Christian heritage, a loving wife of 55 years, five children, four of whom are raising Christian families of their own, and a daughter with special needs who has taught us a lot about God’s ways. God gave me the opportunity to engage in meaningful and rewarding work that hopefully served as a thread in advancing the fabric of his creation. He has given me various opportunities of ministry to represent his Word and hopefully contribute to his kingdom.
But these are just some of the highlights. There is so much more. One of the greatest things God did was reach out to me at a time when my life might have gotten off track, and allowed me to experience his presence in a new and personal way.
He has done all of these things while I am still a sinner, often failing to live up to his message of love and selflessness. But this is not unique to me. He offers the blessings of himself to all who invite him into their lives.
So I offer thanks to God for all that he has done for me, not out of pride, but as a grateful witness to his grace, love and care.