God, make me the person my dog thinks I am. — Church sign

A number of years ago a family showed up at our church with a little boy named Tanner who was autistic. So we put him in one of the Sunday school classes. Suddenly, Paul, the guy in charge of the class, realized Tanner had snuck out! He was mortified, but after brief panic, we found the boy. His parents were concerned, and it looked like that could be the last time they came to our congregation.

But our team thought about it and told them, “We’ve got a volunteer who would like to minister to your boy one-on-one so you guys can come to church together. Would you be okay with that?” They reluctantly said “yes,” and that next Sunday they were back and Tanner was running around our building with Paul running five feet behind him. Sunday after Sunday, Paul continued running after Tanner. It was the start of something special. The number of such precious children in our church grew mightily, each with someone to care for them on Sunday so their parents could worship together.

I think Jesus and Paul are going to have a great conversation about Tanner at the Bema Seat. When Paul stands face to face with Jesus, Paul will be rewarded for the things he allowed Christ to do through him. That’s all crazy talk in the world, but that’s what the Bema Seat is all about. Here’s one thing that counts on that day:

The B in BEMA stands for benevolence.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)

Benevolence is serving someone who can’t serve you back. But when you meet Jesus, He will reward you. Jesus commends those who love the needy, often in quiet ministries that no one sees. And that counts at the Bema Seat, because our world is full of Tanners.

Son of God, it can be tiring loving on someone who can’t serve you back. Show me where I can pour Your love into others like that and give me the strength to do it consistently. Amen.

Taken from Pete’s 365-day devotional book Experiencing LIFE Today.