Thursday, January 23, 2014

Charity (conclusion)

You shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you (Deuteronomy 26:11).

It’s interesting: although we don’t like to accept charity, we still feel entitled to certain things as if this were a different matter completely! We hesitate to accept something free if it is offered to help us in a time of need.  Yet we complain bitterly when God stops giving us things for free, things we did nothing to earn.

What did you do to earn your life?  Was God obligated in some way to bring you into this world as a baby?  What have you done to earn good health?  What have you done to earn your parent’s love, the love of your spouse and children and friends?  What have you done to earn forgiveness for your mistakes or a place in God’s kingdom when you die? 

Before you protest that you earn all sorts of things by working hard, I would remind you of something Moses said to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter eight: You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.  You may feel that you ought to get some credit for being a good Christian, but remember what Jesus said in John chapter 15: I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  It’s simple, really—the only reason we have good things in our lives is because our Lord gave them to us. 

We ought to be like Job.  When he went through a period of tragic loss, he said Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (1:21).  That man of God understood that everything in his life was a gift, none of it deserved—if the LORD wanted to take it away, Job had no rightful claim for protest. 

But we’re not like Job.  Like the Israelites who followed Moses, we are quick to complain that God is not treating us fairly when we enter a time of hardship.  It’s funny—we don’t like to receive charity, yet we expect God to give us everything we hunger for.  In reality, He gives us far more than we actually need; He does this not because we deserve His generosity, but because He loves us.  We would do well to grumble less and tell Him ‘thank You’ more often.

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