Small Gifts May Be Great Blessings

“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).
Several years ago I was with a group working in the western jungles of Guyana among villages of Native Americans (called “Amer-Indians” there). It was June, in the tropics (you spell that “H-O-T”), and we were staying in a lodge about 3 miles from where we were conducting our campaign. There were no vehicles available there, so we walked back and forth 2 or 3 times daily. There was no electricity in the village, thus no refrigeration. Nor were there stores where bottled water could be purchased. We could buy water or cold drinks about half-way to our destination, but it was difficult to carry enough to last us longer than the trip in. This meant that we spent most of our “working time” in the village very thirsty. That is when I learned to appreciate the taste of the “water” from a green coconut. In tropical regions more coconuts are consumed green than ripe. They provide a generous serving of cool, slightly sweet, juice that is very refreshing, especially to a hot, thirsty traveler. The people we visited would often offer us a “coconut water” and it was always received with eagerness and gratitude.
When Jesus commended those who gave only so much as a “cup of cold water” he was not teaching that we can get by with giving little or nothing. In ancient Israel, as in modern Guyana, cool water was a treasured thing, of great value to the thirsty and not always readily available. No, it is not expensive, and it is not rare or luxurious, but it is a gift worth giving and a thing much needed. Jesus’ praise of this gift reminds us that one does not have to do a “great” thing to do something important. Often we best help and serve others by doing simple, everyday acts of kindness and compassion. That is what they really need. That is what they appreciate.
There was a time when children would take their teacher an apple or a flower from home as a gesture of appreciation. Perhaps both the flowers and the appreciation are lacking from too many homes today. As followers of Christ we need to relearn the technique of the ordinary gift. In Matthew 10 Jesus spoke of “receiving you”, “receiving a prophet”, and “receiving a righteous man”. In each case he is referring to practicing hospitality. Even if that hospitality does not involve a fancy meal or special lodging, it will produce blessings for both the giver and the recipient. In fact, he states that the blessing enjoyed by the host will be at least equal to that appreciated by his guest. “He who receives a righteous man?shall receive a righteous man’s reward” (Matthew 10:41).
Applications of this principle are many. Food to the hungry, clothing to those in need, small chores done for the sick, aged or weak ? all these things and many others are ways in which we may bring blessings to ourselves and to the people around us. Look for opportunities to serve, for people in need of a cup of water. Then give it to them.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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