“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 ESV
In I Corinthians 12:22-27 it tells us that God places the members of the body where He desires and bestows greater honor on those who lack it so that there is no division in the body and that we can have the same care for one another. If one member is honored we all get to rejoice together as well as if one suffers, we all suffer. The church, Jesus body is meant to have a shared connection and sense of responsibility, a mutual care one for another. What happens in the lives of others should provoke a shared loving response instead of jealousy, envy, covetousness, or reveling in loss. If in the Spirit, it will produce the same care.
I had such a joy this week. My Grandmother, affectionately known to all as Granny Hobbs turned 90 on February 3rd and we threw her a surprise Birthday party on Sunday to honor her. We invited all of her family and friends to come and celebrate with us. This may not seem significant to those who take Birthday parties for granted. However, this party was more significant than any of us knew.
You see, my Granny Hobbs is the most generous person I’ve ever known, though as a child growing up, I didn’t realize how generous. I like many children today only know it as love from the one who always gives us stuff. Everyone who knows her has experienced her generosity. She shows up every Sunday with candy for all the kids, not just mine, I mean all. She always honors a new birth with some outfit. Whenever I go by her house she always loads me up with stuff she thinks I or my family needs. She gives to everyone. Growing up she took in every stray dog or cat. I pray for the owners of her previous home because she and I have buried probably more than 30 animals in her yard over the years. I know TMI. I could go on and on with stories of how she has given value and honor to others.
You may wonder where that generosity comes from? Maybe she was blessed by people always giving to her over the years. I’m reminded in Mark 12:42 “..but she out of her poverty put in everything shed had.” My Granny Hobbs was born in 1919, one of nine children, very poor. She got married to John Whitfield Hobbs who became a captain in the Army and shipped overseas in WWII. Shortly thereafter she found that she was pregnant with my father. My Grandfather never came back home. My father never met his father. She shared with me one day about standing at the train station waiting for the arrival of the pine box that contained my Grandfather. My Granny Hobbs raised my father as a single mother til she met another serviceman and became engaged. He too was sent overseas in the Korean War. He was killed before they were married. She never remarried. My grandmother worked a number of jobs over the years determined to make it. She went to work for Corning and worked there till retirement. I remember when I was young, she would come get me and take me with her on the weekends to shop the yard sales. She would then take what she bought and resell it at a local flee market and a consignment booth she rented out. I also, remember the first TV my wife and I had when we got married, it was a Black and White that Granny Hobbs bought for $25 at a yard sale. Since then she has owned her own business, Granny’s Country Crafts, and even the last two summers worked at a suvournier shop on the boardwalk at the beach. I think so she can still have extra money to buy stuff for everyone else.
All this really hit me when I went out to walk her into our church where we had told her we were going to have a small gathering with my brother and sister’s family. She does not like to be the center of attention. When I walked her in everyone sang Happy Birthday. I pointed out my father and mother, her brother, sisters, cousins, friends and old coworkers. They all stood and honored her. It was hard to hold it together as I saw her tears. My daughter says I’m a cry baby. Granny Hobbs would have never asked for anything, though as she leaned over she said I’ve never had a birthday party given for me in my entire life.
We honored my Granny Hobbs, but I feel I was honored more. It was more of an honor for us to honor her. It truly is more blessed to give than receive. But after all I learned this from my Granny Hobbs who always gave all she had even when it was from her poverty. This she gave her son, my father who has always modeled it for me and I pray will also be my legacy. She always sees the needs of other and thinks not only of her own needs but everyone else’s. The lessons I have learned are endless.
And by the way, I experienced the presence of God and a more profound sense of church than most of the church meetings I’ve been in, including my own. There are some deep questions we need to ask ourselves after that statement. But it will have to wait til the next post.
Honor one another!