“I say to you the poor widow has put in more than all…..”  Luke 21:3

“Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature”  Mark 16:15

“Therefore when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you…”  Matthew 6:2

I have spent most of my adult life’s vocation in the business world in some respect.  Each one of the businesses that I have been associated with has had competition for customers.  And in each of those businesses, the mantra for the best sort of positive information that can be spread about your company is “word of mouth.”  Even in this digital age where it seems people “talk” to each other less and less, the word of mouth concept still works.  It is called going viral.  So for the most part, going viral, is about people sharing something they’ve seen, read or heard out to their digital network.

So, you may ask, what does this have to do with the message of Jesus Christ and Our Heavenly Father?  First, let’s go back to the thought of competition and more specifically, competing messages.  It has been said that bad news sells.  In a Psychology Today article written in 2010, it states:  “Media studies show that bad news far out weights good news by as much as seventeen negative news reports for every one positive news report”.  Christ makes it very clear there is a competitor with a competing message in this world, competing for our earthly lives and our eternal soul.  Part of his message is about the weakness of God based on how terrible the world is.  Why believe in a God that would let such bad things happen?  Where is God’s power when such bad things happen?  God must not care.  Even we people of faith can unwittingly (and sometimes sadly with purpose) fall into this trap as we try equate unfortunate things with God’s judgement on “them” (whoever the popular “them” group happens to be at the time).  So those who have not had an introduction to Christ, have not come into relationship with Our Loving Heavenly Father, can easily find it difficult to find the news and our judgmental interpretation a welcoming invitation to know Jesus better.

Now, let’s talk basic human nature and experience.  Think about the last time you went to a new restaurant, viewed a new television show, left one brand you liked and tried another.  How many times do those and countless other changes occur because you listened to someone’s advice that you trusted.  Yes, you may have seen countless ads for the product, service, music group or show.  But so often what pushes you and I into actually making a change is the positive testimony we get from a friend and/or loved one; the trumping power of word of mouth.  This can even happen with the news we get.  Have you ever heard a negative news report based on a short, truncated news clip and started to feel down and/or complain about it; only to find out from someone you know that there is more to the story and what the “more” is completely changes the context of the story?  You find with the new information you’re not as concerned, depressed or angry any more?  Again word of mouth.  People desperately need to hear that there are good and loving things happening.  And please understand this, it is not good enough that they hear the one story at the end of the news program that happened a world away.  They need to hear about the things that are happening right where they live, to people they know.  That there is still love, generosity, faith, hope.  There is God.

The stories are out there.  But first and foremost you have to be looking for them.  What have I seen?  The stranger who sees a young man sitting on a sidewalk crying.  Others are passing him by but this stranger (and no not a priest) stops to talk with him.  The person seeing a car on fire pulls a protective blanket out and smothers the flames.  The person in the grocery line that realizes they don’t have enough money to cover the basic food their purchasing only to have the difference made up by the stranger behind them all the while asking blessings upon them.

Jesus knew the power of this.  That is why, when He saw the generosity of the poor widow, He made sure others were aware as well.  When He experienced the faithfulness of hated Roman soldier, that He pointed it out for others to follow.  Sure Jesus pointed out hypocrisy, greed and jealousy when He saw them.  He had a right and was right to do so.  After all He was and is God.  Yet Jesus also wanted us to know that even though we were and are fallen on our own.  Through following Him, we are capable of many wonderfully great things.  Ask 5000 well fed people.

Yet there is something else to avoid.  Please do the generous, faithful, loving thing.  Yet be careful how you tell your own tale.  For if it is all about you and your own glory; the tale will have little lasting value.  No, of much more value is the tale that is witnessed and/or perhaps experienced being on the receiving end.  In the telling of those tales, the teller is much less likely to be perceived as a braggart or one who exaggerates.  Leave those tales of your generosity to others to tell.

Where do I start?  Well it takes practice.  First it takes a practiced eye to see them unfold.  Second it takes practice to be comfortable in telling them.  If it helps start by telling them just to your family or close friends.  As you tell the tale I believe you will feel a warmth and feeling of invigoration at the sharing.  In time, you will become more comfortable in sharing to those you know well and those whom you hardly know.  Brothers and sisters, we are blessed people created by a Loving God who yearns to show His Grace by the acts of His people.  It is the tales of those very acts and that associated Grace that this world so needs to hear about.  If we won’t tell them; who will?

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, pour out Your Strength on us that we would testify of the amazing acts of Grace that we have witnessed.  Help us to be beacons shining our lights on the true acts of charity, humility, courage and faith.  Keep us, Most Merciful Father, from falling into the trap of telling the tales that bring glory to ourselves instead of You.  That in those tales we might bring praise to Your Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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