Do Good Unto All
Christianity is a generous and compassionate way of life, for the Word of God teaches believers to be kind and good to all men; in so doing they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. The child of God has received great blessings from a liberal Father Whose generosity is the example set before him in order that he might show or demonstrate his salvation.
The day in which we live, with its dollar conscious economy, finds us considering our giving only in the terms of dollars and cents. True, money is our medium of exchange, and is a convenient form of giving to others, but it is by no means the only way in which we may give as we have received. In this present discussion of practical giving, let us go beyond the familiar needs of those in full time service for Christ, and of worthy faith projects. Let us accept the exhortation to do good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith, and consider time, hospitality, kindness, love, and interest in others, as ways in which we may express the love of Christ within us.
It is possible for some of us to ask, as the lawyer asked the Master, “Who is my neighbour?” Then unwittingly to pattern our behaviour after that of the priest and levite who passed by on the other side (Luke 10:30-37). It is not difficult to stand apart, with our eyes closed to the needs of unbelievers about us, and, since we have no fellowship with them in the things of the world, to miss the opportunity of witnessing to them of the gracious love that Christ has for all. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates a requirement of the law in moral obligation to mankind. The believer is not beyond the law in this point, but, rather, there is abundant testimony in the New Testament to show our responsibility to every man.
The following are some of the circumstances which call for the unreserved giving of our own resources, whether to a fellow Christian, a stranger on the street, or a distant neighbour. We should feel our responsibility to assist each one of these, when sickness or death enters the home, when severe physical damage happens to the home, or when accident, loss of work, or any other misfortune befalls the family. The Christian, who is interested in showing what God has done for him, will find unlimited scope for that practical testimony that frequently opens the door for testimony to spiritual things. “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase” (Prov. 3:9). The Lord expects His portion of that which He has given us, and He should receive that portion first, lest we consume it upon ourselves. It is possible for us to hold back, or to put off giving, but the Word of God says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee” (Prov. 3:27-28). Is it not possible that we loose the joy and blessing of giving when we hold back expecting that some one else will meet the need we see? “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully… for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
Although it is one of the requisites for an elder that he be hospitable, the apostle Peter exhorts all believers that they likewise “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (1 Pet. 4:9). In hospitality there lies an opportunity which we all may grasp to work out our own salvation. The home at Bethany was a haven for our Saviour; there He could rest from the pressure of the day, and enjoy sweet fellowship with those He loved. Are our homes a place of rest for weary travellers? Are our tables a centre of fellowship for beloved saints? Does our greeting to strangers at the assembly door reflect the warmth of love expressed by the wall-text just within their view ? Have the neighbours enjoyed a cup of tea in our home, and then placed the empty cup beside an open Bible on the table? We cannot afford to miss the opportunity of Christian testimony which hospitality alone provides.
There are three very good examples of hospitality recorded in the Holy Scriptures. In the first two of these examples there had been no previous contact, nor any apparent reason to show hospitality.
“And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread” (2 Kings 4:8). Please notice the force of the word “constrained” in each of these examples. It does not mean a mere casual invitation, but an honest desire to show love one to another. After the great woman had talked with Elisha in her home, she found that he was no ordinary man, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God” ( 2 Kings 4:9).
In the second example, a very warm invitation was given one evening by a couple heavy with sorrow to a stranger who had joined them on their way home. He had enquired of them the reason for their sorrow, and to comfort them He had explained from the Scriptures the happenings of the darkest day in their lives. They were greatly cheered and comforted, but still they did not recognize their companion; nevertheless, “They constrained Him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them” (Luke (24:29). What a thrill when they discovered that the stranger was Jesus! In spite of their weariness and the lateness of the hour, they hurried to tell the other disciples that Jesus was risen. What joy was theirs because they had constrained Him! “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). To this we might add that the two disciples from Emmaus entertained the Lord of angels.
The young in Christ are often an inspiration in Christian living. Lydia at Philippi, immediately on her conversion, sought to demonstrate her new life by showing love to those of the household of faith. “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, if ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us” (Acts 16:15).
These examples are only a few of the many in the Bible which indicate the practical teachings of Christianity.
Turning to the general subject of Christian giving, we might ask why the Lord enables us to work and to earn money. Certainly not to imitate the miser, nor to watch our bank account grow, but rather to prove our salvation by distributing to the necessity of the saints (Rom. 12:13). How specific the Word of God is, “Let him that stole (before his conversion) steal no more (because he is a Christian): but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). Our Lord devoted Himself to constant untiring service for others. Let Him be our example.
Finally, “He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity” (Rom. 12:8). “Not with eye-service, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6). “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23).