Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas 365

It's no secret that during the Christmas season more people are inspired to help the less-fortunate.
I use the term less-fortunate to include those in that position, be it no fault of their own, or those whose bad decisions are manifest by current circumstances. It is often said, to never give money to a homeless person because they will use it on drugs or alcohol. Maybe they will--maybe they wont. Does the Bible ever tell us to not help those in need? No, never. Why is this so? Because giving may help the one in need but ultimately it is for our spiritual benefit.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Why would Paul mention the phrase, "profits me nothing?" Because giving is a spiritual exercise. We give because the sanctification of the Spirit, who is transforming our lives day-to-day to be conformed to Christ's image. It's all a part of laying up treasures in heaven. If opportunity confronts me to help a destitute person or not, but I throw up a defense because they may use the help for drugs or alcohol, then why am I giving in the first place? Is it because I want to be rewarded by the person using the help in the way I desire it to be used on earth? Or is it because I want to be obedient to Christ and allow the gift to have the desired affect God desires?  "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NKJV)

The Apostle tells us that we are not to offend by our actions but to seek the profit of others on earth not ourselves. This is completely different than, "The Offense of the Cross" spoken of by Paul in Gal. 5:11. In that passage persecution of believers is the context. Many will be offended by the fact that we are Christian. But we do not deliberately go out to offend others because it does not bring glory to God. The sanctifying work of the Spirit of God within us compels us to help those in need, not to worry about how they use our help. That is God's business.

During this time of the year we find it easier to help others. But shouldn't this be done 365 days of the year? God's sanctifying work does not begin and end with Christmas. Think about it. And when finished take a look at the following post and allow God to have His perfect work in your heart.

A few years back Richard Bean shared the following insight:

"'Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'(Matthew 19:21)

Here we see the purpose that God has in providing for the poor. Obviously, if God so chose, He could simply make manna fall from heaven like He did for those wandering in the Wilderness. God could easily provide every morsel of food, every drop of clean water, etc.. Why doesn't He? Two main reasons. The first is sin. Sin causes many of the conditions which cause starvation, famine, etc. God's solution for sin is faith in Jesus Christ. But this faith is not simply a belief in the mind, it involves sanctification (becoming more like Christ). God desires us to provide for the poor on His behalf as a means for us to become more Christ-like. Our sanctification is the primary reason that God commands us to provide for those in need. Look back at the verse, "If you want to be perfect." What does Jesus describe as the reason for giving to the poor? Does Jesus cite the benefit to the poor person? No. Jesus cites the sanctification and treasures in heaven. God commands us to provide for the poor for our own spiritual benefit first and foremost."*

God Bless all