Giving reveals God’s love to others
I love the story of Elijah being fed by the ravens in 1 Kings 17. It is a well known fact that
ravens are selfish creatures. No one looking for Elijah would have suspected that he could have trained ravens to bring him food in the wilderness as he hid from Jezebel because everyone knew the raven’s selfish nature. It was simply a miracle that God directed the ravens to bring him his daily meat unsuspected. This same miracle takes place every time God directs a human to give of his own to alleviate the need of another human. We humans are hard-wired to be selfish like the ravens. If naturalism is correct humans should not give away their resources to provide for the needs of other humans which could have been used to further our own lineage instead of the others. But that is not God’s way. For God so loved the world that he gave; he laid his own life down for our need. This is why Jesus said that all men will know that you are my disciples as you have love for one another. James says that your love should be in deed, not word only, i.e. put your money where your mouth is, but not out of necessity or some sort of obligatory religious requirement. Paul says to the Philippians that “he was not looking for the gift but the opportunity that it be credited to their account.” We are to look for opportunity to be ready to give as in vs 7-10. And of course we are to give so spontaneously that our left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
2 Cor 8 1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who meets your needs – How is up to me. On occasion I will miraculously give you money to meet your needs so that you will see my glory and to increase your faith. However, I mostly meet your needs when I move through the generosity of people. I do it this way because I want to include my children in my work here on earth in meeting people’s needs. I want to reward my children when they show that their love for you is real and tangible; in deeds not just in words. When they love others above themselves, then people see that I AM the God of love who can make selfish individuals the instruments of my Grace. When you give to others to help in their moment of need, it shows me that money is not your god. “The poor you will have with you always.” “Why” you ask? It is so that you have opportunities to show me that you care for those I love above your own abundance. Giving is not just for the sake of the poor, it is for your sake to give. Just keep looking for to opportunities to share my love with people in need.
Ananias and Saphira
In Acts 5 we have a picture of what the early church did in sharing their resources voluntarily so that those in real need were helped by those who had plenty. Not “Communism” but Christian sharing as mentioned above in verses 13-15. Not so that everyone has the same, but so that there are no unmet needs within the body. The story of Barnabas sharing his property with the church is truly inspiring. His generosity showed his true heart. Then there was Ananias and Saphira. They wanted the prestige in the church but also to hold on to their wealth. They could have just as easily given the partial portion and been content that they helped a bit, but they wanted their cake and to eat it too. When we are used by God to meet another person’s need we are blessed. On the other hand, when we never ask for help of another, we are actually being stingy. Let me explain, we westerners hate being in the place of needing charity. We love independence. It goes against our pride to ask for help. We are being stingy in this attitude because in our independence, we deprive other Christians of the reward of giving. The point of giving and receiving is that all concerned might glorify and praise God for his work in our respective hearts both in the heart of the giver and in those receiving. As I said before people’s needs give us opportunity to evaluate where our hearts are – on God’s interests or our own.
More to come,