I have a new perspective on what Jesus meant when He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41). I love rewards and I love God. I have been known to give a cup of water either literally or figuratively to strangers. I do it because I feel the love of Christ in my soul and I act out this love by giving to people I don’t know. It is a rewarding experience to know that I have obeyed a prompting from God, but I don’t always know what the cup of water meant to the person.
The other day I got a chance to understand this truth Jesus told us. You see, I was given a cup of water. Actually, it was more than a cup; it was a bottle of water. I’m not certain what motivated the giver. We didn’t talk about Christ in the exchange. I can tell you that I was deeply touched by the gesture of kindness. It wasn’t so much that I needed the water at that moment, but it was more the reality of who had given it to me and how much it cost him.
The cup of water was given on one of our sizzling Texas summer days. The temperature was well on its way into the 100s by the time the bottle was offered to me. I was just outside my home where my own refrigerator is filled with all the water and ice that I could need. I could easily have gotten my own cup of water. The furnisher of the cup of water was a man who had told me in conversation earlier that he had 47 lawns to mow on this extremely hot Texas day. Our conversation took place at the first stop of the day so there was much work and sweat ahead. He wouldn’t be able to easily replace the bottle he sacrificed for me. What meant the most to me was that it was given in appreciation and friendship, and I knew there was personal sacrifice involved. That was the best tasting water I have received in a long time.
It’s not easy to drink a bottle of water given in those circumstances. My first instinct was to give it back and then go inside my house and empty all my bottles of water in his cooler. It was important that I accept this bottle of water and show my gratitude for the sacrificial gift.
This experience opened my eyes to the awkwardness someone might feel when I offer a cup of water. I have a whole new appreciation for those who receive any gift I give. It also showed me that, though I often have no idea how anything I give a stranger might affect his spiritual life, important things can happen spiritually simply by offering him a cup of water. It happened for me. All day I thought about the cup I had been given. I thought all the thoughts I have been sharing with you in this devotion. One cup of water was given, but oceans of impact were felt.
God in His mysterious character has given us a hint about how to live. He tells us the truth that even one cup of water given in His name will have a great reward. Now that sounds ridiculous to our rational minds, but I’m convinced that it is true. I believe it even more since I have received a cup of water from a stranger. I experienced firsthand the spiritual impact the simple gesture can have.