For some time now, I have been spending a couple of hours each week working at our Benevolence Center.It seems to me that there are two basic types of people who come for assistance.First, there are the enabled.These are the people who are always looking for a handout.They are quick to manipulate and have no qualms about abusing the system…whatever system that may be.This group of people tends to create callousness within those (in this case, servants of the Lord) who are trying to help them.Then, there is a group of people who have truly fallen on hard times.In this group, you find hearts of gold; people who brighten your day as soon as they walk through the door.
It is this second group of people of which James says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV)They may not all be widows or orphans, but there are people in our world who need the help of those who have been abundantly blessed.
I believe this is the primary reason that God commands us to give.Luke records Jesus’ words, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)Giving is not about the blessings we will receive, nor is it about paying the church’s electric bill or hosting a fellowship after Sunday worship.While all of those things are important, giving is, above all, a benevolent act.It is an opportunity to help someone who cannot help themselves.
Recently, while at the Benevolence Center, I looked in the basket of coupons and saw a Red Lobster coupon.Now, I love me some Red Lobster!Then I thought about where I was standing.I was standing before a group of people who were waiting in line to be given free food because they could not afford to buy it for themselves!I am so blessed to be able to buy all the food that my family needs and more.We are able to enjoy fine dining out such as Red Lobster (although I left the coupon there that day) and we are able to splurge on Promised Land milk from time to time (although that has been years).
My question today is how tight is your fist?How often do you help someone in need?
It’s easy to become calloused by those who constantly have their hand sticking out; looking for some poor sap to feel sorry for them.But, even in those times of hard-heartedness, there are still so many people who need assistance from those who have been abundantly blessed.(By the way, if you can put gas in your car and food on your table, then you have been abundantly blessed.)
There is still icing on the cake!“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV )