I started to read this post to my son and after I read the title “Giving Is Required” he interjected, “Does that include shipping?” Can you tell he is a teenager? I had to laugh because it was rather funny in the moment. Yes son, shipping is included! Now one with this post!!!!
I knew a person once that thought it ridiculous to give money or coats or food to strangers. This person was a real bah humbug! Like Scrooge in the Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, this person didn’t think giving to the needy was important. Well where do you think that Charles Dickens’ got the idea to write his Christmas tale and show a man who had a changed heart? I think it probably was something he read in the Bible or heard in a sermon, at least I hope so! There have always been those people who think they know how to be a Christian but don’t help their neighbors and I love this story from the Bible because it reminds us of who exactly is our neighbor. Take a look!
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28, (New International Version or NIV).
Notice that the guy asking the questions of Jesus already was an expert in the law the Jewish people followed ritually. He knew that the scripture Jesus quoted was from Deuteronomy 6:5 and still asked Jesus more questions. There are many people in this world that have head knowledge of the Bible and know what they are supposed to do but they don’t have a submissive heart, they don’t give the world up entirely and therefore they are not true Christians. I can imagine this guy as one of those who is always looking for the loopholes in the law so that he doesn’t have to do what is right to do. Let’s look at the rest of what Jesus said to the expert in the law.
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:29-37, (NIV).
The two religious leaders of the day walked on by the poor robbed and injured man but the hated outcast of Jewish culture, a Samaritan, had great compassion on this injured man and got him all the help he needed. Wow! The point of this story is that we all are neighbors even those who smell a little funny or have different colored skin or hair or eyes, or eats different foods than we do. Our neighbor is anyone we see who is in need regardless of whether we know them or not. There will always be people in this world that have needs; it is inevitable because we live in a fallen world. Someday it might actually be you who is in need. That’s a scary thought but it certainly can happen. I know because it has happened to me before. So what are we to do? If we are to be real in our relationship with Jesus then we will do all that we can for them and Christmas time is a wonderful time that gives many opportunities to “Go and do likewise.” The world expects at Christmas time people to be generous and so why not let them see that their expectation from Christians is true? I think there are so many ways to give year round but at Christmas time I love to give to people I don’t know. Maybe it makes my heart a little less sad that so many of my children and their families can’t be with me due to job commitments and distances to overcome. We as a family have decided not to exchange gifts with the adult members of our family. So why not take what I would have spent on my adult children and give Christmas to a family in my own town? Why not make my tip for the waitress or waiter just a little larger so that they have more to spend on their Christmas? Why not give more to others and less to myself? What a concept! But it feels so good to give and I think that is by God’s design.
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:32-35, (NIV).
It is in our giving away things and money and time and talents that we receive joy and contentment and for a moment or two some real happiness. There is nothing greater than to give from our heart to another especially if the receiver is someone who truly is in need. So who is your neighbor? Who is in need in your part of the world? What can you do for them today to show them the love of Jesus? We don’t give to make ourselves be seen by others as wonderful and great and puffed up. But when we give we can show that it is because of our true love for Jesus that we feel love for our neighbor. I hope that God gives you many opportunities to extend yourself to a stranger in need. It is required for Christians to be selfless servants and what better time than when we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas everyone.