Charity can be a costly proposition. It can cost us in our time, our money and/or our relationships. Because time, money, and relationships are a precious commodity to each of us we may become careful and narrow in our application of them. Sir Thomas Brown, a physician, writer and theologian is cited as the most credible source for the phrase “charity begins at home.” Combining this thought/belief with our guarding of time, money and relationships, we not only believe that charity begins at home, we may also believe that it stays at home. However when we really look at the world around us we see and we know that charity beyond is necessary. It is also the highest calling in Jesus Christ – to be charitable to people who are outside of our social, ethnic, and cultural circle. In the journey to discover a new understanding and practice I invite you to take time to read and pray over the following “Going Deeper” devotional. My hope and prayer is that God will grant you a fresh vision of charity and liberate you for a new practice.
Monday: read Matthew 25:35-45 and Isaiah 58:1-12
The gospel writer shares the command of Jesus to care for the hungry, thirsty, naked and those in prison. When we do this, we minister to the Lord himself. So how do we see the hungry, thirsty, naked and those in prison among and around us? The speech of God (as recorded by the prophet Isaiah) commands the people to fast in order to see the hungry, thirsty, naked, and those in prison. If you fast, for what purpose? Could this be a new objective of fasting for you?
Tuesday: read Acts 6:1-4 and I Corinthians 13:3
Sometimes our attitudes and our conflicts can get in the way of helping others. We can see people and judge them thinking they should take care of their own needs without really understanding their circumstances. There are times when our own needs become blinding to the plight of others. What is your attitude about helping others? Or is your need so great it is blinding you?
Wednesday: read James 2:15-16 and Proverbs 3:27-28
Almost every day you can see someone standing on the corners of a street holding a sign asking for help. Because we do not know their story we may restrain from assisting them. But how about those who we do know and whose story we are familiar with? Do we turn them aside? Do we restrain from helping them? Who do you know that is in need but you have restrained yourself from helping them?
Thursday: read Deuteronomy 15:7-15
The Hebrew writer proclaimed that the poor would always be among us. You might recall that Jesus said these words as well; “the poor you will have with you always.” Even though this is still a reality does it mean that serving the poor is a lost cause? If poverty in our world is incurable should we give up?
Friday: read Luke 10:25-37
Jesus tells a story that is intended to broaden the reader and hearers perspective regarding who is our neighbor. The unlikely and despised Samaritan is the one who responds as God desires us to respond. How can we do any less? If we claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ don’t we have an even greater responsibility to see our “neighbor” and help?
Saturday: read Romans 15:25-27 and Acts 11:29-30
The early church developed a practice of supporting one another especially with finances. Paul was the progenitor of the early missional movement. He was also one who would carry these gifts to other churches as well as do fund-raising for his missionary journeys. The needs of the local church are important and the needs of the world are also. How do you balance giving toward both?
Prayer Focus: seeing the needs of the community; seeing the needs of the world; encouragement and conviction regarding attitude and response; granting of a generous heart and life.
Blessings for the journey.