to the glory of God and the edification of people everywhere
Serving Without Expecting Reward
(2 Kings 4:8-17)
Lesson 9 -- first quarter 2009
February 1, 2009
by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2009
Introductory questions to chew
Why do good to others?
Does God always expect us to give, having received?
Shall I serve according to the minimum of their need or the maximum of my ability?
What if my own need is urgent and my own resources restricted?
Which is more important -- to serve Christ or to serve Christians?
Which would you rather do? My natural inclination is to wish for the opportunity to serve the visible Christ as did His disciples and the women that accompanied the group. I suspect most of us have fallen into that trap: making a difference between serving Christ and serving others. The Bible really makes no such distinction. To serve Christ is to serve others and to serve others is to serve Christ. Plain and simple.
"And the King shall answer and say unto them...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).
How far do we carry burden bearing in a material sense?
We know the Scriptures instruct us to help those in need, to be compassionate, and to share...especially in the brotherhood. But how broadly can we apply this commandment when it comes to the financially and materially needy? A few simple guidelines will have to suffice for this place.
#1. How far would I go for Jesus? Now I know we don't like this as the main guideline because we like to think we would hold nothing back from the Lord were He to need it in person. I also know we have the tendency to respond to this guideline by pointing out that Jesus would never be an unworthy, undeserving sponge. We have managed to convince ourselves that a brother in need must deserve our help before we are obligated to help him. Oh, you're wondering how I respond to the verse that says if you don't work you shouldn't eat? Obviously food is a need, yet we shouldn't help out someone who won't work. That person has no need! I say that because he could work. If he were faithful in his work and still couldn't meet his needs, then the brotherhood must help.
#2. How far would I go for myself? How can I justify having my needs met but accepting that others in my congregation can live in need? More difficult to explain away is being to the stage where I begin to satisfy my wants when the needs of my brother remain unmet. What is wrong with us?! I wonder that we even know enough to complete these pieces of verses:
"As ye would that men...."
"Love thy neighbor as...."
#3. I am a transit point for wealth, not a destination. The material wealth that comes into my hands is really intended to pass through my hands. I have often said that our character is revealed by how tightly we hold our material things. I wonder now whether I have been wrong. Might it not be better stated that our Christian character is revealed, not by how tightly we hold our material things, but rather by whether or not we hold them? This is not a call for being frivolous, careless, and reckless with what God has entrusted to us; that is condemned as poor stewardship. This is definitely a call for more faithful "distributing to the necessity of saints" (Romans 12:13). I find it very compelling in the Scriptures that if I have both the opportunity and this world's good I must open my heart and do good to those of the household of faith who are in need (Galatians 6:10; 1 John 3:17). Nobody says this comes easily, but Hebrews 13:16 does make it clear that this kind of sacrifice is well pleasing to God. You might still feel up to checking out 1 Timothy 6:18! Would to God that 2 Corinthians 9:1 were true in our churches!
"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).
"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17).
"But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16).
"That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate" (1 Timothy 6:18).
"For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you" (2 Corinthians 9:1).
Thoughts for the Week:
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