July 6, 2012

Moving is a test of faith

An old hymn contains these words: “Freely, freely, you have received. Freely, freely give. Go in My name and because you believe, others will know that I live.”
These words come from something Jesus said when He sent His disciples to minister to others.
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. (Matthew 10:8)
This is a faith principle. Those of us who know God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ also know that He is our ultimate resource. We can give freely because we trust Him to take care of us. If I have something that someone else needs, money, goods, or time or whatever it might be, it came from God’s hand. If I give it away and find myself needing it again, God will supply. This requires faith, but it is also a mark of faith.

In the beginning of the church, after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, Peter demonstrated that he had faith in Christ by giving what he had to a needy person. As he approached the temple, he saw a lame beggar looking for money.
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)
Then Peter took the beggar by the hand and lifted him to his feet. At that, the man’s feet and ankles were made strong and he leaped up, stood and began to walk. He entered the temple with Peter, walking, leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:7–8) 

In this case, Peter didn’t have money to give, but his faith in God to heal was demonstrated by giving his time and attention to this needy man. He could have walked on by, or tossed him a coin. Instead, he gave him new life.
Genuine Christians learn that God is our source and resource. He teaches us them about His ability to supply all our needs, financial and otherwise. As Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (food, clothing, etc.) will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) When we give ourselves and all that we have to Him, we are never short-changed.

Judas didn’t believe that. Instead of freely giving, he was greedy and grasping. When Jesus was blessed by a woman who poured expensive perfume on His feet, he complained about the use of it. His words suggested that he cared about the poor, but the author of the narrative knew that he was not a man of faith but a hypocrite.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4–6)
To make these verses personal and practical, I have to examine my own attitude toward my possessions. Do I clutch them and say “mine” or can I freely give my stuff and anything else to others in need? 

Moving and downsizing has tested this. We have taken vanloads of good stuff (not junk) to Goodwill and other recipients. Some folks will be glad to get what we no longer need or use. While this is a good thing, I have to ask why I didn’t do it all before now. Why does anyone keep things not used or needed rather than find someone else who can use them? 

Perhaps the answer is that this takes time and life is busy. I don’t miss anything and even cannot remember most of what has gone out the door. That is a good indicator that it was held loosely. Can I say the same about the rest of it? Maybe. I hope so.

Moving is a good test of faith about what I trust to supply my needs. Someone said yesterday that the trouble with giving things away is that you find yourself needing that thing the next day or week. This has not been true for me, but even if it was, the answer is not hanging on to that stuff in case I will need it someday, but trusting God. He supplied all of it the first time so is quite able to resupply if I need it again.

Lord, You have abundantly blessed us. Help us to be abundantly generous, not grasping anything, but willingly giving whatever someone else needs, trusting You to take care of any void this might create.

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