If you have attended a church for any period of time, you have most likely seen the greeting or welcome time. It is either that time when you feel really awkward (if you are like me) or it is that amazing time of the gathering where you finally get to talk to the people near you. It is when they ask you to stand up, turn around, and greet the people near you. At the church where my parents attend, the greeting time goes on for almost five minutes. People are walking up and down the aisles, checking in one another, telling jokes, and it is a beautiful symphony of semi-organized chaos. Even though I felt a bit awkward when I was part of their greeting times, it was so encouraging when someone I had not seen in a while came up to me and asked how I was doing and let me know how good it was to see me. It was such a small gesture, but it went a long way.
Now, the goal of this devotional is not to advocate for longer greeting times here at The River, but to show the difference that even the small gesture can make. I want to take you to Acts 20:35. Luke is writing, following the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul. He is recording the words of Paul, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Paul is looking back to the words of Jesus. This passage has been used at times to encourage Christians to give financially to the work of the Lord, but that is not my goal here.
Paul was a tentmaker. He made and sold tents as he went about his missionary journeys so as to not be a burden to any of the churches where he was ministering. Rather than requiring churches to pay him a certain amount to come, he would work and provide for himself so he could go as he pleased and minister to the places that might not have been able to “afford” him. In this, he had the freedom to go wherever the Spirit called him. This principle of giving rather than receiving can be seen throughout Scripture. Yet, how does this apply to gathering and 1V1? As I shared in the opening, the greeting time at my parents’ church was a blessing to me so many times. It is not because the people there were looking for me to come to them, but because they came to me and gave their encouragement and love. They understood the blessedness of giving without expectation. Today, give to someone else, your “one,” by reaching out and encouraging them without an expectation of them reaching out to you. God can take such a small gesture and do more with it than you could even imagine!