In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work
we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
-- 1 Timothy 4:8
The Dead Sea certainly lives up to its name. Actually a 34-mile-long lake, its super-high salinity--about four times that found in most oceans--makes it impossible for fish or plants to live in its briny waters. It's so salty, in fact, it's possible to recline in the Dead Sea, float with ease and read a book!
The Dead Sea also happens to be the lowest point on earth. Situated between Israel and Jordan about 1,300 feet below sea level, the lake is filled by the Jordan River. But since there's no outlet for the flow to escape, the Dead Sea's waters tend to quickly evaporate in the heat. The result is tons of salt and mineral deposits in the water and on the shoreline. And not surprisingly, minimal life.
This is an apt word-picture for many people who call themselves Christians. Like the Dead Sea, which has a constant in-flow of fresh water, these misguided people receive a steady stream of blessings from God. But nothing ever seems to come from it through their lives. Rather than invigorating their churches, neighborhoods and communities, their talents, gifts and blessings remain unused. And they eventually stagnate and decay. Picture a ripe, tasty apple that's hanging low on the branch...but is never picked. It looks good for a brief while. But its destiny is one of wasted potential.
As Believers, our lives must show tangible actions that reflect our faith in Christ Jesus. This doesn't mean we have to work our way into God's favor by living a so-called "good" life, following a set of rules, going to church each Sunday and putting a few dollars into the collection bucket. Our own efforts--no matter how sincere--ultimately will fall short because we can never come close to meeting God's demand for perfection. So it's no wonder that Jesus--the only one who ever lived a perfect, sin-free life--was the only One worthy enough to die on the cross to pay the penalty we all deserve.
And He paid it in full.
With our many sins and shortcomings now forgiven, we're now free to use the talents and resources our Father has given us to touch our community and serve in the name of Jesus. We can become blessings to our co-workers, neighbors, family members--and even that stranger God puts in your path at the most unexpected moment. We're to be a witness of His goodness in action...and a refreshing taste of the clear waters of His blessings.
Jesus put it this way to His followers as recorded in Matthew's Gospel:
"In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in Heaven."