Agonizomai: Heb 13 - 16 - Christ - Showing Grace Through Us

Friday, June 04, 2010

Heb 13 - 16 - Christ - Showing Grace Through Us

Heb 13 - 16 - Christ - Showing Grace Through Us

Heb 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Although Christians are to be generous to all men as circumstances dictate, yet the context here is within the family of God. Do good to all men, especially to the household of faith. {Ga 6:10} Christians in circumstances as they existed in the early church were often dislocated, persecuted and discriminated against. Many lived from hand to mouth, or in great financial instability. Remember, brothers that not many who are called are what? Learned, noble, wealthy etc. So to start with, Christians were more often the working poor, or slaves and they shared with each other out of their want. Those who had little gave to those who had nothing.

I tell you, in poorer countries the people’s hospitality often outshines those in richer countries. What little they have they provide with generosity and joy. I’m not even talking Christians here. There is something in the human psyche that tends to twist it so that the more we have, the more we hold onto it because we are afraid of losing it. But those who live hand to mouth know that today they have been provided for and the evils of tomorrow are for another day. Not all the poor are generous, just as not all the wealthy are parsimonious, but we must speak as we find.

In this salute and closing admonition, the writer reminds the readers that it pleases God when we give to those in need within the brotherhood. They are family in ways that our own flesh and blood often aren’t. We are tied and bonded to them in the Spirit eternally because of Christ. This is a tighter bond than mere blood. So while they and we are in the body, our responsibility is to care for each other in every way.

But, like all situations in a church that exists in a fallen world, it gets messy. How do you know who is truly in need and who is taking advantage? Who is put before us as an opportunity for the grace and goodness of God to overflow towards them through us - and who is there to feign need or with an avoidably self-created need for which the remedy is close to their own hand? These problems arise in all societies, regardless of relative wealth. Yet we Christians are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Sometimes we must allow ourselves to be used and at other times we must refuse to be used. And we will often get it wrong. But I would think it is better to err on the side of being taken advantage of, than on the side of being impervious to the perceived needs of others (ready to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong, where the situation is unclear). But the overarching consideration in all of this is "to please God".


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