2003-11-03 - Benevolence
Acts 20:35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.
It is not only the message of Christ, but also the example of Christ that the Christian is to be a person who is giving. He taught giving, mercy, and kindness in precept and in example. Faith must be manifested in works. Faith that is without works is a dead faith (James 2:17). The example for us is clear. Scripture is clear. Our duty is clear. What I would like to ask today is what we are doing with that duty? Are we really gracious, or do we hoard all we have? The etymology of the word "give" suggests that one person is holding his hands out to receive and one is holding them out to give into those hands.
If it really is more blessed to give than to receive, then why are so many of us such misers with what God has given us. Remember that our possessions are not really ours. We are stewards of what God has given us. We really don't own these things. God owns these things and we are caretakers of them for a time. I wonder why it is that if we really believe this to be true, and if we really believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive, that we hold onto the possessions we have gathered with the tenacity of a pit bull. If we really believed the words of Christ many of us would live differently.
Let's not be all negative here, however. Remember that the verse also talks about the blessings of giving. I am sure many people who read this are very giving people and this verse comes with a sort of proverb quality about it, or maybe a promise. When we give to others and see the joy it can cause them, we are told here that our joy should be greater because we are even more blessed. We have all seen it. When we do something nice for someone and see that it made them happy, we are often even more excited just knowing we had a significant part in their experience of joy.
Somewhat unrelated, I would like to give you the following rendering of a story that is most likely fictional.
Three wealthy ladies were arguing about which one's hands was the most beautiful. They each did different things to make their hands the most attractive. An old wrinkly woman came walking past and asked, "Who will give me a gift; because I am poor?" All three refused, but a woman who sat nearby, who was unwashed and poor, gave her a small gift. The other ladies then asked the elderly woman about the dispute and showed her their hands. "Beautiful indeed," said the woman, but none of these are the most beautiful. It is the hand that gives to the poor that is most beautiful. As she said this her wrinkles left and she stood before them as an angel from heaven, proving she had the authority to answer the question.
Soli Deo Gloria,