THE BEAUTY OF BENEVOLANCE

THE BEAUTY OF BENEVOLENCE

Acts 3: 1- 10; 4: 32-37

Benevolence is a beautiful thing whether its helping those outside the church, as when Peter and John healed the lame man, or when it is brothers and sisters in Christ making sacrifices of their material possessions in order to help one another.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines benevolence as an act of kindness or charity.  The word benevolence only occurs once in the KJV, in I Cor. 7: 3 where Paul speaks of the affection a husband is to show his  wife, but the concept of kindness is taught many times in the scriptures by both direct statement as well as by example.  Benevolence is taught by direct statement in such passages as Gal. 6: 10 and 2 Pet. 1: 7.  And it is taught by example in the parable of the Good Samaritan, as well as the story of Dorcas in Acts 9: 36.

Unfortunately the teaching of benevolence has not always been a simple matter.  In some places brethren are divided over how the church may practice deeds of kindness, especially where it involves the use of money from the treasury.  As a result the work of the church has been hindered.

Yet there is little that can be described as more Christ-like than when we help those in need and do good, Acts 10: 38.  Its is surely to be seen that the early church was known for prayer, breaking bread and  boldly proclaiming the word, and we must never overlook the effort they set forth to help  those in need.

The Recipient of the kindness of Peter and John was a lame man.  He had been lame from his mother’s womb.  He must have been born with some birth defect that left him unable to walk.  He was at the temple only because someone was willing to carry him there.  Some people are beggars who live off the charity of others because they are lazy and do not wish to put forth the effort to work.  WE have no obligation to such people.  2 Thess. 3: 10. To give to one who will not work is only to encourage his laziness.  Solomon advised the sluggard to be like the ant and work to provide for himself before poverty overtakes him, Prov. 6: 6-11.

But the man begging at the temple gate was not a lazy sluggard.  He had a genuine disability that prevented him from work.  Today there is a variety of govt. programs and jobs training that often makes it possible for the disabled to work, but such was not the case in first century Jerusalem.  The lame man had been dependent upon the kindness of others for over 40 years, Acts 4: 22.  Those it is no surprise that the man responded to being healed by leaping and praising God.  Not only could he walk, but he would now be able to work and support himself rather than beg.

But handicaps are not always physical.  They are spiritual too.  That is why Peter took the opportunity to do more than perform a miracle of healing the     body, he also took the opportunity to heal souls by telling people the good news of Jesus Christ being raised from the dead.  It is through the good news of the gospel that men find meaning in life.  Can you imagine what a miserable existence it must have been for the lame man to have to beg?  Not only is it a humiliating existence but until that day if was an existence without the hope of anything better.  Hope is one of the simple necessities of life, it is even critical to our salvation, Rom. 8: 24.  Yet many people live desperate lives that are void of hope.  They seek anwers to life’s misery as they search for meaning and purpose.  They sense there must somehow be more to life than days and years of eating, drinking, sleeping and working. In Jesus Christ men find that hope and meaning that people everywhere so eagerly long to find.

The Givers are two of the apostles, Peter and John.  We look up to them as apostles and pillars of the church, but their desire to help others, spiritually and physically was typical of the early church.  Every child of God should seek to be a giver.  WE all have something of value that we can offer to others.  Its true we can not perform miracles and heal people instantaneously but there are other ways to help.  Remember that even the cup of cold water given to a little one has its reward, Matthew 10: 42.

Giving in the name of kindness and love is the very essence of godliness.

John 3: 16, For God so loved the world that he gave…  Titus 2: 14, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Paul took a collection from the churches of Greece that it might be given to needy saints in Jerusalem, I Cor. 16: 1-3.  Then in I Timothy 5: 1-16 special attention was given to how the church should go about helping widows who were in need of support.  From the beginning of the church onward numerous other examples could be cited of the attention the apostles and the early church gave to helping those in need.  WE must all be alert, watching for opportunities to help those in need, to lift up the fallen and extend a hand to those who cannot make it on their own.

The giftWhat I do have I give you, v. 6. Gifts vary in terms of quality and quantity.  The gift of his health was much more than the lame man ever expected.  It was  a practical gift of lasting value. It was to solve his problem on a long term basis whereas money would only help him for a day or two and then he would be in need once again.  Their solution was like the better half of the modern proverb which says, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat every day.”  Unlike the apostles we do not have the gift of miraculous healing.  WE can seldom offer a person such an instant and durable solution.  But we should do what we can.  Often we “give a fish” because it’s an immediate solution whereas “teaching a person how to fish” involves a deeper commitment.  In James 1: 27 the scripture speaks of helping the orphans and widows.  The ideal solution would be to take orphans into our homes and raise them ourselves,  but not everyone is suited to do this.  But we can help those who do take them in.  There are many ways to help those who are in need.  There are a variety of assets that a person might have at his disposal, such as time, talents, skills, energy, money, advice, etc.  While no person can do everything, we have all been given some gift that we can share with others, Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them, if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering, he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads with diligence he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness, Romans 12: 6-8.

In Mark 14: 3- 9 we read of a woman who anointed Jesus with a flask of fragrant oil.  John 11: 1, 2 tells us that the woman was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  Some observers criticized Mary because she did not sell the fragrant oil and give the money to the poor.  But Jesus defended her and praised her because he saw her act as an anointment for his burial.  In fact he gave her one of the highest compliments ever when he said, “She has done what she could.” Likewise Paul said in I Cor. 8: 12,  If there is first a willing mind, it is accepted as according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. It is easy to grumble about what we don’t have and argue that we would do more if we had more, but that is not how God looks at it.  God is pleased when we use what we have, when we do what we can.   Since every good gift comes from God anyway, James 1: 17, how could God possible be displeased with us for not having more.  If God wanted us to have more, he would have given us more.  WE are held responsible for what we have, not what we don’t have.

The Credit for the Gift.  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.  It is proper for the giver of a gift to receive credit for his charity.

While it was Peter who commanded the lame man to rise up and walk, the real power to provide the gift came from Jesus Christ.  It is likewise proper for us today when we give, to give so as to honor Jesus Christ.  What ever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, Col. 3: l7. While there are a number of charitable organizations that do good work, the Christian prefers to give and act in such a way that gives glory to God, Matt. 5: l6.  Often this is best done through the works of the local church.  It gives credit to Christ and the efforts are easy to monitor for efficiency.  Large charities do accomplish much, but there is also a lot of room for corruption and inefficiency.  I once made a donation to a charity that has an annual fund raising drive, they operate in a way that is outside the purposes of the church, but what concerned me was when I found out that only 5% of what they collect goes to the people they are supposed to be helping.  Thus before we participate in any cause it is good and proper to ask some questions.  WE should ask how much help the recipients will actually receive and who gets the credit, glory for what is done.  Every time a gift is given or a favor is granted, someone should be thanked and given proper credit for their generosity.  AS Christians our purpose is not to gain any personal glory or recognition, in fact it is perfectly acceptable for us to give in secret, Matt. 6: 4.  But when credit is given it should be given to God, for He is the original source of all that we have.  AS Paul said in Eph. 3: 21, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

It is easy to talk about benevolence, there will always be poor and needy people, Mark 14: 7, but the real question is what are we doing about it?

Let us learn from the examples of the early church that those in need may be helped, that the gospel may be preached, and that God may be glorified.

However it is difficult for you to glorify God as you should if you are not currently one of his children.  Maybe you need to be born again into God’s family.  We can help you with that this day.  Or maybe you are a child of God but you have not shown kindness and charity to those in need.  You can ask God to forgive your negligence and then begin to do better this very day.  In either case if you need to respond, come as we stand and sing.

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~ by ubcky4 on January 20, 2010.

One Response to “THE BEAUTY OF BENEVOLANCE”

  1. I read this and I agree with the things you said. Everyone that can afford to help others should. Benevolence is doing for others not only in money but helping in other needs.I have always help with money and in other ways i am needed. there are times people need a way to the doctor or some other need.God sees what you do and thats all that matters to me .People need to realize that benevelence is not only money but its the help you can do in other ways. Visting the sick always been there when you are needed for whatever reason.thank you for writing such a inspiring letter.God Bless you.

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