1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)
3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
chrésteuomai: to be kind
Phonetic Spelling: (khraste-yoo’-om-ahee)
Definition: to be kind
Usage: I am kind (full of service to others), gentle.
Kindness is an inner quality (ATTITUDE) of compassion, being gentle… caring
Kindness results in goodness (ACTIONS)… serving one another, being generous… doing something because you care
chréstotés: goodness, excellence, uprightness
Phonetic Spelling: (khray-stot’-ace)
Definition: goodness, excellence, uprightness
Usage: goodness, uprightness, kindness, gentleness.
Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Luke 6:35-36 English Standard Version (ESV)
35 But love your enemies,
and do good,
To do that which is good
To do something which profits others
To do someone a favor
To do what is right
To be generous
expecting nothing in return,
and your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High,
for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
I did not grow up with all the fanciest things, but I was provided for well. I had all that I needed and then some. I had too many toys than I could play with at one time. I had too many books than I could read in a day. I always had food every day; I don’t think I ever missed a meal. I have always had a place to lay my head and clothing on my back. Even though there were days when my pockets were empty, it was simply on those days that the bills were paid and there was nothing left over. I had just enough.
In Deuteronomy 15, it says that there should be no poor because God was going to bless the people in the Promised Land, and so He did. The command was to give generously, not grudgingly. God was going to bless the people. They needed to remember that God was the source of all, and live life with open hands.
Still today, we are to give generously. When we look around, it’s easy to see that there are poor among us. There are people struggling every day. There are people who are not able to have a warm meal tonight, while there are others tossing food in the garbage because they have too much. There are people who are hoping for a place to sleep tonight that isn’t outdoors, while others have numerous homes. There are some people who don’t have a place to call their own, while others need storage areas because they have too much to fit into their house. Give generously. Don’t hold back. If the Spirit is leading you to open your hands, open them and watch what He does. If we all opened our hands, just maybe there would be no poor among us. Just maybe what God has given us is enough for everyone.
“There should be no poor among you, for the LORD your God will greatly bless you in the land He is giving you as a special possession. Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.” Deuteronomy 15:4, 10 [NLT]
Many times we pick and choose who we want to show kindness. It is a lot easier that way. We don’t need to address any of our own personal issues when we desire to show love and kindness to a person. We can stay in our comfort zone. The problem is, we aren’t meant to stay in our comfort zone, and we are commanded to love everyone. This includes loving those who are not easy to love.
In Matthew 25, we read about the Sheep and the Goats, the final judgment. In Verse 35, Jesus begins to share that what we do for others we are doing for Him. When we feed someone who is hungry, we feed Him. When we give someone who is thirsty a drink, we are refreshing Him. When we clothe the naked, we are clothing Him. When we visit someone who is sick or in prison, we are visiting Him. This can be helpful to self-examination, to looking inward at our heart and checking our motives and our level of compassion.
It will always be easier to help someone who you know well, someone who is like you, someone you find comfortable. But we can never share the love of Christ with the world if we stay in our own little safety area. Don’t stay in the bubble this week. Say “hello” to someone new. Do something kind for a stranger. Share the love of Christ with those who come along your path.
“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”- Matthew 25:45 [NASB]
Tithing is always a sore topic to bring up. It seems whenever the “T” word is mentioned, people grab hold of their wallets, slide down in their seats, and contemplate why they should not open up their wallet because they don’t want anyone to catch a glimpse of what is inside. Many times the “T” word causes people to consider the church always “wants more of my money.” Some people might consider on what the church is using the tithed money.
In Nehemiah 13, we read about what happened to the Levites and the singers who did not receive the portion commanded by God. When Nehemiah returned to his duties for the king as cupbearer, the Israelites no longer gave the commanded portion and the Levites had to return back to their fields. This basically meant that the Levites, who were supposed to care for the Temple, had to leave their duties to take care of themselves. This is not how God designed everything to work out.
This saddens me. God commanded the people to take care of the Levites as they serve the Temple of God. The people dropped the ball and left the Levites to fend for themselves. There is great importance in taking care of God’s house. For us, things are different. We don’t have a Temple like back in Nehemiah’s days. Instead we have two very important items of great significance of which need provisions and care. We have our bodies, which is what houses the Holy Spirit. We also have our local church. It is important that we care for both; treat your body as a temple of God and remember that yes, God doesn’t need your tithe, but you need your tithe. Why? Because by tithing, you are giving God back what He has given you. You are worshiping Him rather than worshiping things. You are fixing your eyes on the Creator and King, rather than on temporary. It is a joy to give. It is a blessing to give. Give abundantly and watch what happens.
“I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field.” – Nehemiah 13:10 [ESV]
Whenever I get to the pet store, I like to get a special treat for both of the pups. Today I decided I would get both of the dogs a large bone that I previously got for Max in the past. I always hesitated getting one for Marci because she is so small. It turned out that when I got Max one, Marci would take it and drag it all over the living room enjoying some chew time.
I quickly found out that when there are two bones, the dynamics change. All the sudden Marci, who was blessed to have this large bone for the first time, became a bit greedy. When she saw Max move away to lay down in one of his favorite spots, she took his bone and pulled it over to her bone. In doing so, she left him know that the bones were now both hers. Oddly enough, Max is insecure and Marci often gets the best of him. We found ourselves having to give Max his bone back and tell Marci to mind her manners.
The Bible speaks often of the sin of greed. John the Baptist said if you have two shirts, give one away. If you have food, share with those who are hungry. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing and so are we. We have a choice. We can choose to follow the teaching of the world, which points us to building castles here on earth and practice habits of greed. We can choose to live a life of generosity. When we open our hands, ceasing the ever-so-tight grip on the possessions of this world, we find that our open hands receive greater blessings and it is a pure joy to share as the Spirit leads. Bless someone today!
“John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’” – Luke 3:11 [NLT]
Be a Blessing
Abraham was promised three things. God said He would make him a great nation. God said He would make his name great. God said He would bless him. We remember these promises. Again and again there is mention of this covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant. What a beautiful promise! What an awesome covenant!
So. So. So. Oh yes, there’s a second half of the verse. The verse continues, “So that you will be a blessing.” God will make Abraham a great nation, and bless him and make his name great SO that he will be a blessing. There’s receiving, but there’s also giving. There’s an expectation. There’s a response.
We each are blessed. Blessed to be a blessing. You have a choice in life. You can reach out and grab it all for yourself. Or you can ask yourself, how can I be a blessing? Today, consider what you can do to bless someone. It might be by using a gift or talent, by using something in your possession, by reaching into your pocketbook, or maybe it simply means to listen or smile or spend your time with someone. It is wonderful to be thankful for your blessings. But an attitude of gratitude should result in a desire to be a blessing.
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” – Genesis 12:2 [ESV]
We often like to add our two cents. It could be sufficient to say a particular thing but we add a little more because it’s on the tip of our tongue. We direct people to a passage of the Bible and then continue onward with our position. Some of us take whatever position we are in and go beyond the position’s description. For some of us, we serve those who are disadvantaged—we get saddened by their situation or irritated by their constant needs. Paul tells us to “keep a smile on your face” and not to add to whatever it is you are doing.
When you are preaching, it should be the Word of God, not your own agenda. When you are helping someone, you help—you don’t take over the situation and become an enabler. When you teach, you be sure to focus on teaching the Bible and not drifting off. When you are providing guidance and encouraging people, you do not cross the line and become bossy, trying to get the people to take your counsel and force your position. When you are in charge of something, you are not to use it to your advantage and get people to do as you desire. If you are in a position to help those that are in distress, be sure to pay attention so you can answer the call and not miss the boat. If you work with those who are disadvantaged, you should not be depressed by their situation. At the same time, you should never let them cause you to get irritated.
This is a lot of do’s and do not’s. It sounds like a bunch of rules. But what Paul is saying can be simplified—whatever you are called to do, do it with a smile and always point to Christ. It is not about you—it is about Him. If you always aim to point others to Christ and it is all about Him and not about you, all of these “rules” will be followed. When we add our two cents, we make it about us. It can never be about us.
“If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” – Romans 12:6-8 [MSG]
There are people all over the world who need help. There are people right in front of you that need help. Proverbs tells us that we should “never walk away from someone who deserves help.” If there is a person before you, “your hand is God’s hand for that person.”
Do you consider yourself the hands and feet of Christ? We each are called to serve, to love, to help those in need. “Don’t tell your neighbor ‘maybe some other time.’” If the “money’s right there in your pocket” it should be so easy to pull it out and bless that person. That is why God put it there in the first place. You have been blessed to be a blessing.
Each day I see people in great need and I see those who could help. Sadly many of those moments end with the needy person walking away without assistance. God places many people before us each day, many people we can touch with His hands. We can show love—it requires action, it requires being intentional, it requires compassion. Get your God’s hands ready. It’s time to help someone.
“Never walk away from someone who deserves help;
your hand is God’s hand for that person.
Don’t tell your neighbor ‘Maybe some other time’
or ‘Try me tomorrow’
when the money’s right there in your pocket.
Don’t figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor
when he’s sitting there trusting and unsuspecting.”
-Proverbs 3:27-29 [MSG]
We see many people not hold back. Many times it is when someone is having a tantrum or voicing an opinion. Then there are those who don’t hold back at the all-you-can-eat buffet. There are those who don’t hold back when they are racing or competing in sports. Not holding back means doing it all. It could be eating it all, giving it all, saying it all.
In today’s passage, we read about the Israelites who responded to Hezekiah’s command with generous hands. “They didn’t hold back, turning over a tithe of everything,” the Bible says. They gave the firstfruits of everything—EVERYTHING! There was so much stuff that was dedicated to God that it was piled in mounds. Look at the time involved—over three months of piling items. Talk about not holding back.
When I read of this it brings me great joy. I always love to read about people who are so generous and giving. It is such a special thing to give; it is a gift to give. I always get more joy from giving than from keeping. Sadly the statistics show that most people hold back a lot. I have heard it said if everyone tithed without holding back, giving the ten percent, people would be cared for and there would not be all of the situations we see all around the world. You might think that ten percent is a lot. You might think you cannot do it. But trust me, when you do it, God sees you through. You always have just what you need. So don’t hold back. Live with your hands open.
“As soon as Hezekiah’s orders had gone out, the Israelites responded generously: firstfruits of the grain harvest, new wine, oil, honey—everything they grew. They didn’t hold back, turning over a tithe of everything. They also brought in a tithe of their cattle, sheep, and anything else they owned that had been dedicated to God. Everything was sorted and piled in mounds. They started doing this in the third month and didn’t finish until the seventh month.”
-2 Chronicles 31:5-7 [MSG]
There was a great visual demonstration that a pastor once shared with me, and it will always stick with me. It has to do with open hands. He said if you have your hands closed, you are unable to receive blessings. You hold on to what you have and deny yourself from receiving what God has for you. Ever since I first heard this, I have carried it with me.
Today’s passage tells us that if we “give freely” that we will “become more wealthy.” We live in a society that says to save everything you have, invest, store up, get more, have more, and that’s how you be more. Culture tries to get us to build up a fortress here on earth. But God tells us otherwise. This passage says that if you are “stingy” you are going to “lose everything.” This isn’t just a scare tactic to get you to tithe more. If you put your energy into storing up here on earth, you will soon find that the moths can eat it all.
You become so much more wealthy if you freely give, recognizing that nothing is yours. I recently heard a response from a pastor that speaks volumes. His daughter said her day was going badly. He reminded her that it wasn’t “her” day. It was God’s day. Each day is God’s day and He gives it to us as a gift. The same goes with everything else. He gives it all to us. So give freely and see just how wealthy you will be for living life with open hands.
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” – Proverbs 11:24 [NLT]