Your Cup of Cold Water

Wendy keeps bottled water and peanut butter crackers in her car—not for herself, but for those who stroll the medians at major intersections: Hungry — Laid Off — Will Work for Food.

Wendy isn’t comfortable dishing out cash to strangers, fearful of feeding an addiction. But neither is she comfortable turning a cold shoulder to one of God’s children who is hungry or thirsty. So she rolls down the window of her Chevy and offers a bottle of water, a package of crackers, a smile, and a “God bless you.”

How about you? Give a helping hand. Join a Habitat for Humanity chapter and help build a home for the homeless. Or step up and pay the hospital bill for a single mom who lost her job, and almost lost her child.

Not physically able to climb a ladder and swing hammer? Not financially able to cough up the clams to build a new wing on the pediatric ward?

Then do something small. How many big contributions do you find in your New Testament anyway?

The collection Paul gathered for suffering saints in Jerusalem may be one. We don’t know the amount, because no goal was mentioned; no fifteen-foot thermometer displayed to gauge how the campaign was going; not even a victory shout in the church bulletin trumpeting the final tally.  But Paul asked a lot of churches to participate, so I’m guessing it was big. Whatever the total, it wasn’t underwritten by a big grant from The Gentile Foundation; it was made up of a lot of little gifts from a lot of big-hearted people.

Then there’s Barnabas. The magnitude of his largesse isn’t given, but chances are he ponied up some serious shekels when he sold his property and gave the money to the church. That’s about as close as you’re going to get to big ones. Most of the things we read about are little things, not big things.

God doesn’t ask many of us to do big things, because most of us aren’t capable of that. But he asks all of us to do little things, because all of us are capable of that.

Whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward (Matt. 10:42 NASB).

I think God smiles when Wendy rolls down her window.

When Russian writer Leo Tolstoy encountered a beggar, he reached into his pocket for coins. Finding none, he looked the man in the eye and said, “I’m sorry, my brother, I have nothing to give.” The down-and-outer said, “You gave me more than I asked for . . . you called me brother.”

People need to be acknowledged; need to know they have worth.

Discipleship isn’t a big, flashy production. It’s played out in the everyday bumps and bruises of life in little things, thoughtful things, loving things—a handwritten note, a hug, doing lunch with someone who needs to talk and needs a non-judgmental friend to listen. In the Bible it’s found in simple phrases: “Encourage one another;” “Be kind to one another;” “Build each other up.” Things like that. As the song has it …

Give me a hand when I’ve lost the way
Give me your shoulder to cry on
Whether the day is bright or gray
Give me your heart to rely on
           Little Things Mean a Lot
           Lyrics by Edith Lindeman

You make a donation, lend a helping hand, give a shoulder to cry on. “It’s no big deal,” you say. Yes it is! Kindness, compassion, understanding, concern, acknowledgment of worth is always a big deal.

So, what is the cup of cold water that you will give today? To whom will you give it?

Don’t leave this piece without answering those questions—because you and I write this message together. The words I’ve written are the least important part; the deed you do writes the most important part—for it is not my words but your deed that is the cup of cold water that counts.

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