2000-11-24 - Giving Alms, Arms, and More
Luke 21:2-4 And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, 'Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.'
You may have heard this recent account of a Sri Lankan man who became "cat chow" when he jumped into a lion's den. According to officials, the man had written a letter before jumping into the enclosure, saying he wanted to give "alms" to the lions. He went to the zoo, took off his clothes and jumped in. The man was rescued by zoo staff and onlookers who beat garbage cans to frighten the lions away. The three lions bit off parts of his arms, legs, chest and groin area. Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist population believes that giving alms can earn merit for future incarnations.
We have come to the time of year when giving is emphasized. Our giving could be gifts for friends and family, or special gifts to the church so the budget can be met. Our gifts could be time spent in ministries to those less fortunate. It could also be money or a toy for a family in need. But regardless, this is a time of year where giving is emphasized.
One thing we must remember, not only now, but throughout the year, is that God is the fountain from which all our blessings flow. Anything we have, we have because God has entrusted it to us. God gives sovereign handouts. It is He who has the power to make us prosper or to take away what we have. In giving we simply release, willingly, what we have already been given. In fact, in Psalm 112 we see an interesting lesson. One of the characteristics of a righteous man is that he gives freely to the poor. (Psalm 112:9) The entire Psalm is a lesson on graciousness and compassion. The result of these characteristics is an "eternal remembrance." (Psalm 112:6)
It is represented as a great charge against the world and the wicked that they do not give thanks. (Romans 1:21) Thanks to God is another way we may give. We can thank God for his mercies to us and to those we love. We can ask for His further blessings and continued mercies. Even when we give to others materially, God is glorified. Our giving may become a stream of thanksgiving in their hearts, and in this, God is also glorified. We are reminded, "In everything give thanks …" 1 Thessalonians 5:18 One way to minister is to help others give thanks to God.
Giving can also be done by the giving of our time. We can visit those whom society and others have forgotten or left behind. Giving can be done by speaking a word of encouragement to someone who is hurting. Simply sending a card or making a phone call can be a gift of great value. Giving is not simply a financial consideration. Remember Peter in Acts 3:6, "But Peter said, 'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you; In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene -- walk!'"
One of the classic passages in the Bible on giving is 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. In verse 7 of that passage we read, "Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." As we have seen, there are many ways to give. The fact that we may not have a great store of possessions is no reason for us not to give to others. During this season of giving may the Lord so work in our hearts that we may develop and revive the principle of giving such that it will become a habit in our lives and less of a seasonal experience.
"God has given us two hands -- one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing." Billy Graham
Soli Deo Gloria,