One of the many benefits of writing, especially when I wrote for my local paper, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, is meeting various people from all walks of life. It is truly a blessing. One such meeting happened several years ago, when I interviewed a widow about her ministry to other widows. Her love for those ladies and the Lord was intoxicating. I want to be like her in so many ways.
She told me about various ways she had been able to serve others, and one was through something she affectionately named “love and run.” She would pray for God to allow for a time and place for her to do something for some unexpected person or family and then leave the place so that the recipient never knew who gave it. For example, once she pulled into a McDonald’s and told the drive-through worker that she wanted to purchase the person’s meal behind her. She paid and drove off.
Simple enough—and not even that original. But she did things like that a lot. And though she would never know the reaction or response of the one she helped, she did know that God was aware of her giving and her love of neighbor, and that was all that mattered to her. And this lady wasn’t giving out of her abundance—she was not rich. She was simply giving what she could with what she had.
Jesus instructs us in Matthew 6:1−4,“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Public acts of obedience are not sinful. Much of what we do, if we are living out our walk faithfully, will likely be public in some ways. But if we are practicing our righteousness with the motive to draw attention to ourselves—for the eyes and praise of others—then we have turned our good deeds into a sham. We will always have to fight mixed motives, but we should resist the temptation to do things for the primary motive of glorifying ourselves rather than God. And although I don’t think we should feel any pressure to pay for meals in a drive-through lane, something about it is appealing because it allow for giving in secret.
Have you ever served someone or been able to give in secret? It’s so rewarding, isn’t it? But I confess—thinking “love and run” is not natural for me. I am much too selfish and aware of my schedule and the tasks I need to accomplish in any given day. So I need to pray for supernatural power to be others-focused in this way. And to think, God stores up rewards for those who give for His eyes and His glory alone. What a blessing!
Valentine’s Day is all about love. For some it’s also about heartache and pain—which makes it a perfect day to show love to someone in need. On Valentine’s Day this year, what if we joined my widow friend to think of those who might be in need of some practical displays of love? Let’s do our very own “love and run” this Wednesday—but shhh, don’t tell anyone what you do, when or how you did it. Just store it in your heart and pray that those who receive will be blessed by it!
Love and Run ideas:
- Buy someone’s meal at the restaurant table next to you—tell the waitress, but don’t tell the guests.
- Buy someone’s meal through a drive-through.
- Go to a store and complete payments on a random stranger’s “layaway.” (Let the store contact the recipient and tell them the item is ready to pick up.)
- Send a meal to a friend in need—via a different friend.
- Give money to someone in need.
- Rake leaves or mow the lawn at someone’s home who may need assistance.
- Drop off a note to a friend or someone you know who may need a good word of encouragement.
- Call a nonprofit organization, find out their greatest need, and then give it.
- Put together a date package (dinner, movie, etc.) for a husband and wife who are struggling financially.
- Go to a grocery store in less affluent part of town and purchase the groceries of the person in line ahead or behind you.
- Call your pastor and find out who is in need at your church. Pray for them and think of ways you might be able to care for them in more tangle ways.