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Saturday, July 1, 2017

HEBREWS 13:16

"And do not neglect doing good and sharing,
for with such sacrifices God is pleased."




In context, these words are in a letter written to a displaced people.  They left their homes, their livings, and were starting over in a place that was not their home.  This was a community that in Acts was selling their property and sharing with each other in the hope that Jesus was coming back soon.  We're still waiting. But in the meanwhile, we are still encouraged to keep on doing good and sharing.  Do not neglect it.  They were keeping the words of Jesus, "If you wish to be complete (perfect), go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21)  This was a description of the Early Church: 



"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul;
and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own,
but all things were common property to them...
For there was not a person among them,
for all who were owners of land or houses
would sell them and bring the proceed of the sales
and lay them at the apostles' feet,
and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth,
who was also called Barnabas by the apostles
(which means Son of Encouragement),
and who owned a tract of land,
sold it and brought the money
and laid it at the apostles' feet."
(Acts 4:32-37)





Keep in mind, if they had remained in Jerusalem, they would have lost it all anyway when the nation was overrun by the enemy and every Jew who had not been made to flee, who held onto their Jewish temple worship, were either killed or taken away as slaves and captives to a foreign country.

"As we have opportunity, let us do good to all,
especially to those who are of the household of faith."
(Galatians 6:10)






None of this is about doing good works in order to earn our salvation.  No.  Just as the "fruit of the lips" flowed with praise, the natural flow of their lives in generosity is the same.  Rather, Jesus' view of such is what He said in Matthew 25:35ff...


"For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
naked, and you clothes Me;
I was sick, and you visited Me;
I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
Then the righteous will answer Him,
'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You,
or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
And when did we see You a stranger,
and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you,
to the extent that you did it to one of these  brothers of Mine,
even the least of them, you did to Me."


Jesus takes it personally.  Isn't that enough to spur us on to good deeds? 

As you probably figured out by now, I'm into history, thus I find Ancestry.com fascinating.  As I was researching some kin of mine who were earliest settlers in Norfolk, Virginia, I found that a few of my ancestors were church wardens in their parish.  Now when these early settlers were starting all over in this new land, there were the haves and the have-nots.  It was up to the church to be the welfare office.  I discovered that the care of widows and orphans, of imbeciles and handicapped, the poor and helpless was provided for by the church.  From the very beginning of our nation, before it was a nation separate from England, people of God looked after the needs of the needy.  Tithes were thus distributed to those assigned to such care.


Adam Clarke says, "No reliance, even on the infinitely meritorious sacrifice of Christ, can be acceptable in the sight of God if a man have not love and charity towards his neighbor...and they are the proofs that a man belongs to Christ; and he  who does not bear these fruits gives full evidence, whatever his creed may be, that he is no Christian."



What do learn in preschool and kindergarten?
To share!



I think this is more than putting a dollar in a panhandlers hand.  It is seeing a need, in the body first, then in others, that lets the grace and light of Christ to be set free into the world.  It is going beyond feeling as if we deserve what we got and earned by ourselves and grip tightly in our little fists, but it is recognizing that everything we have is a gift and grace from God's own hand.  If God's hand has been open to us, shouldn't ours be open to others?



"...with such God is pleased."


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