Thursday, September 22, 2005

Give Till It Hurts! Ouch!

Give Till It Hurts

I am writing from the chauffeured vehicle of my boss’ Ford F-150. We are on our way to Raleigh, N. C. to do some work today. It looks as though we might actually get some rain today, but I’m not counting on it.

I ran across this sign the other week. It is from our church down the road. They really have a problem with these signsJ Now they have two messages at a time going. So I will be commenting on both in these next posts. The first one says, “Compassion demands that we do something. Give until it hurts!” Now it has become acceptable in our society and even in the church of Jesus Christ for this phraseology to be used. Yet this is not a biblical statement at all. As a matter of fact our giving should be done for several reasons. Compassion does come to mind. James said, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (James 2:15-16)” In contrasting those who say they have faith and those who say and act accordingly, James gives a very practical demonstration of someone’s faith: help your brother or sister when you see them in need. Now, before we pride ourselves that we have said what is often said “down south”, “Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with”, without actually desiring to help. You’ve seen that before, right? Maybe you have even been guilty of it. I sure have. We have said those things thinking that it makes us look compassionate, but failing to realize that God saw our heart and took those as idle words. I am not speaking to genuine concern and a sincere desire to help our brother, but there are times when we have clearly seen the need of our brother and said those words without opening a heart of compassion and simply helping him.

Compassion is not hurtful. It is joyful. It should mark every believer in Jesus Christ. Christ was compassionate to the multitudes. Notice:

Mt 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

Mt 14:14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

Mt 15:32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." Mt 20:34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

Mr 1:41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."

Mr 6:34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

Mr 8:2 "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat.

Lu 7:13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."

The word used in all these verses is the word splagchnizomai (translated “compassion”). It means to be moved as to one's bowels. Those of Jesus’ day would have spoken of the bowels as the seat of their emotions. They would have been “touched” in the pit of their stomach’s had something affected them deeply. We use the same concept, but speak of our heart not our bowels, for obvious reasonsJ However, let us note that these are emotions, but they are not emotions that are left alone. Jesus was touched with their infirmities and sicknesses and waywardness and hunger. He “felt” for them if you will. However, Jesus did not simply “feel” for them, but He acted and demonstrated compassion. In other words, His compassion is not a feeling alone and neither should it be of his followers. Just as faith without works is dead, feeling compassion is dead apart from its outward demonstration. Notice it didn’t hurt Christ, it moved Him.

Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. There we find a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead. He was from the nation of Israel. Along comes a man, a Samaritan, who for all intents and purposes this beaten man would probably not have the time of day for on any other given day. But the Samaritan is moved with compassion when he sees him. Let’s not forget that many of the man’s fellow countrymen and in fact religious leaders have already passed him by, having their emotions stirred, but leaving the man without help. This Samaritan was moved to the point of action and took care of what many would have said was his mortal enemy and he did it without saying, “You can pay me back when this is all over.” Since the man who was beaten was a merchant, the Samaritan could have told him that he could just repay him in goods, but that’s not what he did. He took him to an Inn, paid for his stay, asked the keeper to care for the man and said he would pay any expenses when he returned. Wow! Jesus wanted to make sure that prejudice was set aside among His people and that they cared for people the way this Samaritan did: with true compassion. Notice it didn’t hurt the Samaritan. It moved him.

Another aspect that often happens in regards to giving is that many give out of guilt. How many people buy presents for people not out of love or compassion, but because there is some type of celebration and they believe that the other person will be getting them something and so they get a gift? That is not a gift of compassion.

When there is the giving of money, some people feel obligated. When the cashier asks would you like to help with, whatever the particular organization is or some other particular project, people somehow feel obligated, but not moved with compassion. Let me lay it on the line. It is ok to say “no”. If you act out of guilt rather than compassion, just keep your money. Remember Ananias & Sapphira form Acts 5? What were they doing? It appears that there was great pressure on them to give because, well, everyone else was giving. What is most telling and I think most common today is that they gave, which was good, but they gave for the wrong reasons and under false pretenses. They lied about what they gave, when they didn’t have to give at all. Their giving was for show and God struck them dead. Incredible! God wants giving that is from a cheerful heart, not one motivated by guilt or pride.

Also, remember that in Acts 4 we see what was going on. There were many believers who had need and there were many believers whom God had enabled to meet those needs. Guess what? They called the committees of the church together and made sure that they could meet it through their financial needs. No? They called the government and made sure that the social welfare program would care for them. No. They gave to the apostles of what they had, which for many was, lands and money from land, so that they could be distributed to those who were in need. Clearly we see these early believers moved by compassion. Let us note the words of Luke in Acts 4 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,

35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

Isn’t that beautiful? There were none among them who lacked anything, for they cared for one another and they were of the same mind and God blessed them and He gave power to His apostles to witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. What good would the witness of the resurrection do if it did not produce holy living and compassion in others? It would do exactly what many see today among those who call themselves Christians. It would create those who do not see the glory and beauty of the Savior and His gospel. May God grant us hearts of compassion and move us to action for our brothers and sisters.

Before I left this morning I checked out Nathan White’s website and saw the post he left regarding some brothers and sisters in MS. They are in desperate need and his church has decided to send some supplies and help. If you would like to help, please visit Nathan’s Site and they have list of items that the people need. May God guide you and me in giving, not till it hurts, but out of genuine compassion.

2 comments:

DOGpreacher said...

An article well written, and I agree with you brother...

.....and then...there is Christmas (yes, it's only 3 months away). Start saving now so you can be a really good steward of His blessings to you, Mr. Christian. You know, that wonderful time of year when "we are much better witnesses for the Cross of Christ" (at least that's the common excuse), and when we buy gifts for each other to celebrate the birth of the Savior. And then...well...it's still a little early for this isn't it?
...I am...

grateful
for
grace!

Tim said...

Well,

Maybe we should contemplate those things:) I know it comes up about as regularly as the Sabbath issue. However, I always make it a clear point that we are to make a big deal about the incarnation and virgin birth, but I am in process of weeding out Christmas. Traditions die hard.