Query: Do you recognize material and spiritual needs of others and help to minister to them?
Recently a friend shared this story with me. He was having a hard time financially. The money he had was tight. There was no guarantee of how much money would be coming in the near future.
And in the middle of this stress a friend called. My friend didn’t want to take her call. “I just couldn’t bear hearing from her.” You see, this friend of his was upbeat in most situations and loved to share all the great things God was doing in her life. He just couldn’t handle any happiness right now.
He listened to the voicemail later that day. Her church took up a regular one- or two-dollar a week donation from each person and each month they provided a financial gift for those in the community that needed some help. My friend, anonymous to the congregation, was the recipient of that gift for November.
My friend wrestled with his emotions—He was humbled and he was blessed. He resolved that part of the gift he would receive would be donated to someone else who also needed it—he knew that there was always someone else who needed to be encouraged, someone else who needed provision, too.
1 John 3:16-18 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
One of the key aspects to the Quaker Way of life is to realize how much we have been given—whatever our circumstance. God is good. He is gracious and generous. Think of all the spiritual blessings you have received. Reflect upon the relational gifts of church, family, and friends. Dwell upon the material blessings you have received. Are you thankful?
But today’s query asks us to ponder and act upon the second part of thankfulness. Are you generous to others, spiritually and materially? Generosity of any kind arises out of gratitude. I have received; I want to share that with someone else.
I love the story of Zacchaeus in the Bible. Here is a man that has worked hard and become successful, in a financial sort of way. But he realizes he is bankrupt in a spiritual way—he has abandoned his people and they have rejected him. But Jesus is rumored to be a different kind of guy—a friend to sinners! Jesus insists that he must go to Zacchaeus’ home and share a meal with him. Zacchaeus is so humbled and grateful for Jesus’ presence in his home, the man pledges to give away the bulk of his amassed wealth. Jesus tells him that this sort of heart, this sort of action has brought him salvation.
We have received so much from our Lord. And a Christian response to such blessings is to not hoard it up for ourselves, but to bless another. I believe we model that pretty well here at First Friends. Like my friend at the first part of the message and like Zacchaeus, we are humbled and thankful that God has blessed us and we want to share with others.
Let us not weary in that, though. Neither let our giving become an empty gesture or guilt-driven. We must strive to remain tender to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to be the hands and feet of God. Amen.