Check my title. Remember this Janet Jackson song? If you don’t, let me refresh your memory…It was megahit song from Janet Jackson’s Control (1986) album and her first hit on both the pop and R&B charts according to Wikipedia. This song is about a woman’s growing dissatisfaction with her man as she realizes that all of the nice stuff he did for her was becoming a distant memory hence the question, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
I imagine that in many, if not most, romantic relationships, somebody is asking that question at some point…But what about our relationship with the Lord…I wonder if the Lord asks that question from time to time about me or about you…I would guess the short answer is yes. If you’re anything like me, you find yourself offering prayers to God that sound like this…”Lord, give me favor with my boss” or “Lord, get me a book deal” or “Lord, who is the one you have for me?” And I believe the Lord does want us to come to Him with all kinds of requests (Ephesians 6:18). So those type of prayers are not wrong…But sometimes, I know the Lord must tire of us asking Him to do things for us…Sometimes, He must want to yell, “What have you done for me lately?!”
Obviously, as mere human beings, there is nothing that we can do for God that He cannot do for Himself, but like the woman in the Janet Jackson song, I’m sure that He wants our actions in the present to demonstrate our love for Him…Now here is the caveat. Usually acts of love require sacrifice…This post reminds me of a story from my childhood and a comparable story in my early ’20s…When I was a little girl, I was taught that I should become a Christian or “give my heart to the Lord,” but I once famously told my Sunday School teacher that “I was not done being bad yet!” I also did not want to be a missionary…I met some missionaries as a child, and it sounded like hell on earth to be in some hut in a faraway rural country proclaiming God’s world… and they were always begging for money to support the mission too…it just was not appealing to this city girl who even refuses to go camping unless there is an air-conditioned cabin involved…As a child, I had this nagging fear that the Lord was going to call me to be a missionary, and I wanted no parts of that…I remember when I worked as an intern at a Baptist newspaper right after college, and we ran a story about some missionaries in Buckhead (yes in the north of the A)…I chuckled to myself as I read the story…Now, if the Lord wants me to be a missionary to the affluent, I could certainly do that, I said to myself..
But back to the dreaded sacrificial acts of love….What should our sacrificial acts of love be? I think these verse offers some direction…
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-39
Acts of sacrificial love, I believe, involve doing things to help others.
My mother just came back from Jamaica where she spent a week helping to facilitate a Vacation Bible School that had over 200 children each night…And my mother and her team stayed in accommodations that did not have air conditioning…Say what? My mother adores children so I’m sure that is was so much fun for her, but I think it was a sacrifice too…one that required her to give up air conditioning, energy, my father and her adoring daughter (me) and sons, her schedule, etc…I’m sure the Lord was pleased…At some point, I hope I work up the courage to do a short-term mission trip…Yeah, I said it…I have no inclination to be a long-term missionary…
But even if you do not decide to travel to a faraway country in an act of sacrifice, I am sure there are things we can do in our own neighborhood and corner of the world to demonstrate our acts of sacrifice and love for the Lord…Have we given money to some worthy mission? Are we volunteering for a ministry at our church? Do we allow time in our schedule for “divine appointments?” A divine appointment is an appointment that you did not plan for that day that may involve you spending an hour talking to someone that needs your insight when you planned to do something or be somewhere else. Have you given a ride to someone who needs it?
If you’re anything like me, it is so easy to think about all of my goals and dreams for my life –and many of them include goals I have for the kingdom of God…But I don’t think that God is pleased when my life becomes singularly about accomplishing about my goals…sometimes I have to just put aside my goals for a moment or longer and just be available to whatever God wants me to do at the moment – whether or not it gets me any closer to my goals…
And here’s a hint…whatever you or I decide to do, I don’t think we have to tell others if we can help it…I think God is especially pleased when we do things for Him when only He is watching…
3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 3:3-4
Anywho, as I go throughout my day today, I will be thinking of my acts of sacrifice…What about you?
Check out Paula Abdul in this video! And remember the dance “The Snake?” They were gittin’ it in this video, lol!