Keep on smiling
We’re going to talk about giving for a while. Paul tried to encourage the people of Corinth to be generous towards those who were less fortunate. To convey this message he used the congregation of Macedonia as an example.
They were a remarkable group of people, because even though things weren’t going well for them, nothing could wipe the smile off their faces. Almost like that Kia advert where the guy said he was so pleased with his car that if it weren’t for his ears, his smile would go right around his head!
Amidst difficult circumstances the people of Macedonia could go on smiling. One crisis after the other hit them, but none of the terrible setbacks and hardship could take away their joy. They kept on being cheerful. That says something significant about them.
I struggle to be like that. Most of us struggle to be like that. As Sunday evening creeps closer, the smile disappears from our faces and a melancholy mood descends upon us. Just a little bit of opposition and we go into defensive mode, asking where God is and why He allows these things to happen to us. Maybe we think it should always go well with a Christian and when things don’t go as we think they should, we have a right to blow up.
The Macedonians were different. They came from a different direction. Their state of mind wasn’t determined by their circumstances or how much money they had. They were simply so grateful for receiving Jesus Christ’s message of salvation that nothing else mattered. Their joy and the smile on their faces were the result of the grace they had received from God.
This is an important lesson for all of us. If our state of mind is determined by our circumstances, the weather, how much money we have, whether it’s Friday morning, the number of points, the car I drive, whatever, then I must realise that my emotions will go up and down like a rollercoaster.
Edna learnt something of this the hard way:
The past five years I have walked around with a 1 001 questions in my mind, because I’ve lost everything (according to me): my work, my money, my friends and my family, and sometimes it felt as if I had lost my God too. Many days I felt like Job who was sitting in filth and called out: Why, my God, why?
O, I was a Christian! I witnessed, but today I realise how superficial my Christianity and witnessing were. Today I look back at the past 12 months and not only am I speechless about how God has cared for me, but I’m also afraid. You see, God had to cleanse this child of His so that I could see what His grace was about. We say so easily that it is by the grace of God, but do we really know what it means to receive God’s grace? When you know that you don’t even have a piece of stale bread for dinner, no money for food, and then you get home and find five bags of groceries, you simply sit down and cry like a baby, and then you hear God’s voice: “Let My grace be sufficient for you”!
A wonderfully raw, true account of someone who, like the Macedonians, knew it was all about God, and that His grace is sufficient to keep us smiling, no matter what the circumstances are. May this be true for all of us. May our ears battle to contain the smile from running right around our heads, no matter what it looks like around us.
How bad are your circumstances?
Are you smiling?
What does God’s grace do for your state of mind?
Lord, now I can see where I’m making a mistake. I allow the circumstances in which I find myself to affect my life. I do know how big your grace is. Because I’m living in it every moment. Please let that determine my state of mind, because I want to smile – the whole day long. Amen