Do these two words seem as if they belong together? Can they be coupled? Does it sound reasonable or does it sound like a paradox? Wondering…
The scripture section I was meditating on today reminded me of my mum. I will get back to the passage in a bit, after I share my little trip down memory lane. I remember this beautiful black flared cotton skirt my mum had bought me when I was a teenager. It had white cotton lace trimmings and a few grey plaid borders.. It was girly, feminine… and classy! I simply loved it. I had got to wear it only a couple of times.
Now my mum had a habit, when she bought something new for me she would make me give something away – and not something ‘old’ but rather something nearly new. My mum then bought me something else and she gave the skirt i treasured away which was still pretty much new to my cousin.
I remember when we left Sri Lanka to go overseas my mum gave away my melodica to our neighbours saying they would appreciate it and once we settle overseas she would buy me a new one. Ummm.. let me just say that that melodica was the last one I ever had. That was my mum.. always thinking of others, and not with bad stuff but with things that we are still using or new stuff.
It irritated me at the time but looking back she taught me some good values. Giving away things meant giving away good stuff not things that are to be thrown out. Today a friend of mine posted on FB how she as a pastor’s wife has to continually check what is being donated to the poor – the things that people give without thinking just because it’s for the “poor” after all!
Anyway, it’s interesting that my friend had posted this today as the scripture I was meditating on was Hebrews chapter 13. Verses 15 & 16 speak of TWO types of sacrifices.. the first a sacrifice of praise – even when we don’t feel like offering God praise, making a choice to do so is a SACRIFICE of praise. (And by praising, I don’t mean going around with a religious spirit and empty words saying “Praise the Lord” – it means finding reason to praise Him specifically, to count your blessings).
The second sacrifice mentioned in these verses comes after sharing! Yup these two words actually go together – in scripture.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others,
for with such sacrifices God is pleased” – Hebrews 13:16
God is PLEASED with such sacrifices!! With what? Doing good and SHARING. It is not about giving excess or left overs, it’s about sharing with others. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:28 that one “must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need”.
Work = doing something useful with his own hands = to share with those in need…
What is your definition of work? To ensure you and your family is doing well and that a nest egg is put aside and then give leftovers if any at that to those in need or is it above as in Ephesians 4:28?
How far are we pleasing God and to what extent are we straying from doing so? It’s a question all of us, every one of us have to examine ourselves often.
I think of people who have barely anything to eat.. and then I think of people in ultra high end vehicles which can barely move in the traffic in this part of the world.. and both subsets belong to the same community of people, even perhaps in the same church.
And then I think of the early church – they shared all that they had. Look at the high standards set… Where do we stand?
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together … praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved – Acts 2:44-47
They were together.. they had everything in common… They praised God and enjoyed the favour of ALL the people.. each shared.. What was the result of this?
“The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved! Whoaaaa… Mind blowing…They were kingdom minded, not individual minded.. not ‘biological family’ kingdom minded but God’s Kingdom minded!
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. …There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them … it was distributed to anyone as he had need – Acts 4:32-35
The believers were one in heart and mind – they were one family, the family of God, the body of Christ.. One part suffered all suffered… and responded so that need was alleviated. Obviously the witnessing was evident by their lives. Jesus did say “by your love for one another let it be known that you are my disciples”.
I agree this is a very tough call, high standards. However, this is what Scripture tells us and it is important to keep meditating on such verses and remind ourselves what God expects from us. It is easy to go along with the flow of the world and be looked upon with assets and wealth as a yard stick. However Jesus says, no one can serve two masters. He makes it clear not to store riches on earth.
Are we one in heart and mind? Can it be known by our love for one another that we are the disciples of Jesus?
Are we SACRIFICIALLY sharing? Do we remember that everything belongs to God and we are just the stewards of it all?
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers – Galatians 6:10