Happy Birthday

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Birthdays come around every year. I have had more experience with birthdays than most of the people reading this. If experience counts, I ought to be an expert!

Birthdays tend to play into a self-gratification mindset. In birthdays we focus too much on ourselves. The person celebrating the birthday expects presents, cake and ice cream, attention, a party, etc.

I just celebrated another birthday – a significant birthday! Actually at my age, every birthday is significant! My age is the last 2 digits (not the first 2 digits) of our nation’s birthday. Is receiving gifts on my birthday the best way to celebrate? Should everything center around me? Is there a better way?

Doug Eaton lives in Oklahoma City. He recently turned 65. He was talking with some of his friends about how he could celebrate that big significant day.

Much to his shock, one friend suggested that Doug should do 65 random acts of kindness. It would not be someone giving to him, but his giving to someone else.

Doug took that seriously. He went to an important intersection in Oklahoma City on his birthday and he handed out $5 bills to passersby for 65 minutes.

He said that celebrating his birthday that way was the best birthday he had ever had. He discovered the gift of giving. He said that he was very surprised that some people were afraid to take the money. When he tried to give it to them, they immediately turned the attention from themselves to others.

One person said, “Man I love what you are doing. I won’t take it but give it to someone who needs it.”

Doug enjoyed his 65th birthday. What a unique way to celebrate. The deepest dimensions of life are always discovered when we are giving rather than getting – when we are thinking about others rather than ourselves. Every day could be a birthday!

The Bible reminds us it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 10:35) Jesus reminded all of His disciples that the best way to do something for Him was to do something for somebody else. He talked to them about feeding Him, clothing Him, and visiting Him in prison. The disciples said they didn’t remember any of those occasions. Jesus pointed to a group of poor people and said, “In as much as you do it to one of the least of these my friends you have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

The best way to honor God and discover a deeper dimension of living is to do something for someone who can’t reciprocate. Don’t wait for a birthday occasion to celebrate life!

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