Do You Leave Folks Better Off Than When You Found Them?

You were in a horrible pit of sin. The Lord passed by, saw you, and lifted you out of your hopelessness. He left you better off than when He found you. His actions toward you gave you a goal in life: to imitate His gospel activity by helping, serving, encouraging, and challenging others. You want to leave them better off after they encounter you—a beautiful picture of the gospel.

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Leaving people better off than when you found them is one way you can connect the gospel to real life. Connecting the gospel to everyday life is a multi-faceted opportunity for the believer. But how to do this does not come naturally because it’s a spiritual discipline (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Observing and learning from others who are connecting the gospel to the lives of others practically is vital. Recently, I had two people illustrate what it means to connect the gospel to my everyday life by leaving folks better off after an encounter.

I met with my friend Biff. He had been walking his son through this concept of “leaving people better off after you encounter them.” He told me that part of his parenting strategy was to always leave his son better off after meeting with him. I thought, “Wow! Now that’s a great goal.”

During our speaking/consulting tour in Florida (2019), Lucia was in a church restroom where a lady was brushing a tear from her cheek. The Lord nudged Lucia to speak to this lady, but she let it pass. Shortly afterward, the lady sat near her during the worship service. Lucia knew what she needed to do. After the church meeting, Lucia approached this stranger. She told her that she saw her in the restroom with a tear and wanted to encourage her. Thus, she did.

  • Biff always wants to leave his son better off after they interact with each other.
  • Lucia responded to the Spirit’s prompting to encourage a lady who was struggling.

During lunch with our family, I had Lucia share what happened during the church meeting. Then we talked about other times when we “listened” to the Spirit’s illuminations, and engaged friends and strangers with a “word from the Lord.” As you know, this exercise is subjective and sometimes you can be wrong. My thinking is that I had rather respond to those kinds of things than let them pass by.

Imitate the Gospel

One of the Christians’ goal is to always “be on the prowl,” looking for ways to connect the gospel to everyday life. And when you hear about someone doing it, you want to make a note while asking the Lord how you can do similarly. Our objective is to have a heightened awareness of this kind of gospel-centered thinking and living.

Thus, when someone makes a gospel-centered statement, as Biff did, I want to draw attention to it by thanking him for making it and by seeing how I can apply it to my life. When Biff said, “You always want to leave people better than when you first meet them,” my mind went immediately to the gospel. Let me explain how the Lord did this for me.

He planned to regenerate me. His planning included the execution of His Son on the cross. And Jesus’s act of kindness accomplished my redemption. According to Biff’s worldview, Christ left me better off than when He found me. Biff was communicating the powerful effect of the gospel on my life. When you are acted upon by Christ, you are inevitably and irresistibly left better off than you were before His engagement with you.

Play a Gospel Game

Here is a fun game you can play today with your friends. And maybe this “game” can be so woven into the fabric of your daily, practical life that it becomes who you are as a person.

The game: see how many people you can bring the “practicalized gospel” to today by leaving them better off after their encounter with you. Here are a few practical, gospel-motivated illustrations of how to do this.

  • Hold the door open for someone today.
  • Pick up a piece of paper or trash that you see on the floor.
  • Buy a meal for someone at a restaurant.
  • Tell the cashier at a restaurant how grateful you are for their service to you.
  • Communicate at least three ways in which you appreciate your spouse.
  • Communicate at least three ways in which you appreciate your child.
  • Send your spiritual mentor an email expressing your gratitude for them.
  • Send a friend an email expressing your gratitude for them.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in the line at the grocery store.
  • Take some food or gift to your neighbor.
  • Post an encouraging “status” on your Facebook page.
  • Say “thank you” to at least five people today.
  • Pray for a friend and let him know what you prayed.
  • Share the gospel with someone.
  • Ask someone to forgive you for a specific sin that you committed against them.
  • Hold hands with someone.

Will you add to this list? What are some ways that you can leave others better off than when you found them?

Call to Action

Ask the Spirit of God to give you a heightened awareness to those around you, and respond with courage and grace to what you believe the Lord is prompting you to do.

My prayer is that my life becomes one long, happy trail of people who were better off after meeting me. Think about your last five engagements, whether they happened in the real-world or cyberspace. Did you leave them better off after you interacted with them? May we never forget that the Lord did this for us.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. – Psalm 40:1-3

Caveat – Confrontation can be one way of “leaving a person better off” after meeting with you, though it might not feel that way to them or you at the moment.

Caveat – “Listening to the Spirit” is a subjective experience. You will never know with perfect confidence that what you’re “hearing” is from the Lord. Maybe you will “misunderstand” what the Lord is saying to you, but you must press on with confidence. Even if you “miss it,” it’s better to take the risk than cocooning yourself from the radical and exhilarating life that the Lord offers.

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