“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
David Graves, 77, and his wife Karen joined Southeast in 1992. In the late ’90s, they moved to New Delhi, India, while working for General Electric and joined “a multi-denominational, internationally-diverse fellowship of believers.”
“One Sunday in 1997, Rev. Richard Smythe, a bishop of the Church of England, was our speaker,” Graves said. “In his message, he spoke a sentence that I very much agreed with, and which has been etched in my heart ever since: ‘In the economy of God, none of us can escape the responsibility to be a blessing to others.’”
Graves said that Smythe’s words drew him to 1 Thessalonians 5:23, which starts, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.”
Graves has been reading Oswald Chambers’ devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest,” for decades. The devotional has helped him and millions of others study and be encouraged by God’s Word since it was first published in 1935.
“Sanctification can require a lengthy explanation, but I think Chambers summarizes it nicely: ‘The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family likeness to Jesus Christ, and the freedom from everything which is not like Him,’” Graves said. “What a high bar these words set for us! Early on in our walk with Jesus, I think it overburdens us, but there are so many different ways we can have a ‘family likeness’ to Jesus ... It’s usually much simpler than we realize—like keeping our mouth shut and doing what’s needed, or offering wisdom and love without judgment.”
Graves said that there have been many times in his walk of faith that he has not had a “family likeness” to Jesus. Graves recalled Matthew 5:39, which says, “‘But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.’”
“As we grow older, it doesn’t get any easier to turn the other cheek, but fortunately, with age, we may be a little slower in our response to offenses, insults and criticisms,” Graves said. “Chambers offers this Godly insight: ‘Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself.’ And, ‘Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.’ Even so, there are many opportunities to turn the other cheek, and we are a blessing to someone when we do that.”
In his 77 years, Graves has learned to bless others by first receiving God’s many blessings found in His Word.
“God’s Word blesses us in countless ways, but we have to read it, digest it and put it to use. We must choose to be a blessing to others, using the various gifts God has given each of us,” Graves said. “Most of our blessings come, and are given, in simple, unnoticed ways. May your and my walk with God produce ‘invisible blessings’ in the lives of others. As Chambers wrote, ‘If you believe in Jesus, you will find that God has developed and nourished in you mighty, rushing rivers of blessing for others.’”