Paying Attention to Those Around Us

Are You Missing Opportunities?

If you are paying attention to recent television commercials you are realizing that the holidays are descending upon us. Somehow in the middle of this crazy year, the season of joy has slipped up on me. It makes me ask, what opportunities I missed this year because I just wasn’t paying attention. As I now reflect and perhaps realize what I have or have not done, it seems I just might have missed some things with all that is going on in my world. Did I, in my busyness, miss my opportunities to help others. What about you? Have you been paying attention this year to your opportunities?

Perhaps, however, as we look closer, we didn’t miss it. Maybe we were paying attention and, in our attention, to taking care of presented tasks, we just didn’t realize what we were doing. We didn’t realize that in the seriousness of the situation what our role was. We were, after all, just helping and serving. Perhaps, because we were paying attention and taking to the task at hand, we just didn’t realize that we were also worshiping, Christ.

It all comes down to paying attention. Someone, once said that “The secret to life is paying attention.” In our crazy world today, even without a pandemic, social unrest, and a plethora of other ills; the distractions of our culture are all vying for our full attention. But paying active attention is a virtue we should practice and expand upon. For when we are paying attention to the needs of those around us, we don’t think about what we are doing as we just are living out what’s in us.

Paying Attention while Giving Thanks

This Sunday, the church moves from the liturgical time of “Ordinary” to the “Reign of Christ Sunday. The colors change from green to white, as it is a time of celebration. This is also the last Sunday of the Christian year. So, even in this most difficult year, we are reminded of the Christ we follow and the thankfulness of all we have and have accomplished together. It is time to give thanks for the goodness of God and our place in the body of Christ. We offer our thanks to Him who gives us salvation and the gift of the church. We can celebrate Him each time we gather no matter how that takes place. For it is here we can publicly worship and offer our thanks for God’s goodness and our place in the body of Christ.

As we approach the official day of Thanksgiving, in the U.S. and the Christmas tide season, we recognize that it is a time to celebrate the abundance of God. It is here that we can pay careful attention to what we do hold and show overwhelming gratitude for all that God provides. Research makes it clear that there are enough resources for everyone in the world to live sufficiently. However, there is a problem of distribution, more clearly known as sharing, therefore we must be paying attention to those around us.

Expressing Gratitude while Paying Attention to Distribution

It is difficult to think about celebrating with thanks when we know that many do not have enough. How do we celebrate the abundance of God while recognizing the selfishness and inequalities seen in our communities and world? It is a challenge to find ways to live out our gratitude while we serve others. However, first, we must be paying attention, for when we do, it is easy to find new ways to be thankful and express gratitude through giving, serving, and loving.

When we learn to give, serve, and love, we find ourselves paying attention to those around us. There is no better place to learn how to do this than to be part of the kingdom of Christ. In this place, we actively “do,” not because we need to earn salvation or because we are worthy of such. Instead, it simply becomes our worship, our response to a generous and loving God. It is living out the 2 greatest commandments, love God and love your neighbor. Christ told us that we can’t separate them, doing one and not the other. For grace received is grace to share. We are to pay attention and live out our received grace in our everyday life.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

Paying Attention to “Whenever” We Do or Don’t

Christ demands our involvement in the care of others. This means we must pay attention to what is going on around us. There are no excuses for our involvement doesn’t depend on our finances, abilities, or intelligence. By paying attention to our “neighbors” around us we are following the 2 greatest commandments as we are loving God with all our heart and loving others as we love ourselves. We are each responsible to give what we can for this reason.

When we are paying attention, we simply serve where service is needed. There are acts of mercy that we can do or not do every day. The choice is always ours to make. But in this, it is also important to remember that it is not the who, but the what that becomes the importance. We are to serve others where it is needed. Christ reminds us in His words of this passage that it is “whenever” we do or not do. Whether we are paying attention or not He is. Therefore, it is so important that we love every person and serve anyone we can. For when we live a life of abundance through loving others, we are glorifying God and reflecting our love for Him.

Pay Attention and Make a Difference!

Many of us will be spending a lot more time during the annual celebration seasons at home with our families. Perhaps, as we look for ways to glorify God, we should begin paying attention to our direct surroundings. In what ways can we challenge ourselves to be more giving and serving to those immediately around us? How can we challenge ourselves to pay attention to those in our community, and what opportunities will we refuse to miss not only during this season but all seasons to come? Let us find our convictions deeply rooted in the 2 greatest commandments and move not only our gratitude outward but our worship as we allow our motivation to stem from the examples given by Christ. Lastly, let’s find comfort in knowing that because of His love for each of us, Christ, gives us abundant grace.

Won’t you share that with others in all the seasons of your life?

Love in Christ,

E.J.

Postscript

The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.

Keanu Reeves

Extra Study

Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 10:40,42

What are Your Thoughts?

Are you paying attention to the world around you? Do you serve others without thinking? Have you given deep thought that Christ is paying attention to you? Share your thoughts on the need to pay attention because the world needs you!

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How God is working through your life?