Digging deeper into grace (09/20/2017)

What is your attitude toward what you have and toward the needs of others?

Some people might push an ideology of looking out for yourself alone, but I encourage you to embrace a different attitude.

The Bible teaches the principle that God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others! Deuteronomy 16:17 sums it up well: “Everyone should give as he or she is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.”

Other verses speak clearly of God’s call to us to care for those who may be in need.  For example:

Proverbs 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

Proverbs 22:9: “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”

Proverbs 28:27: “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”

James 2:15-16: “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”

Interestingly, living out a life of sharing our blessings with others turns out to be as good for us as it is for those whom we help.  Winston Churchill put it simply: “We make a living through what we get; we make a life through what we give.”

“Psychiatrist Karl Menninger observed that giving was a mark of mental health. He found that generous people are rarely mentally ill. Their focus is less likely to be inward. They do not have as great a need to hoard their resources. Generous individuals are less fearful that others will exploit them. Sharing their resources brings joy and fulfillment to their lives” (reported in Men are from Israel, Women are from Moab, by Dr. Norm Wakefield & Judy Brolsma).

I love Philip Yancey’s perspective on the matter of generosity. He writes,

“I don’t know what comes to your mind when you hear the word fat, but I have a good idea. In America fat is nearly always a dirty word. We spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books, and exercise machines to help us lose excess fat. I hadn’t heard a kind word about fat in years—that is, until I met Dr. Paul Brand.

“‘Fat is absolutely gorgeous,’ says Brand, a medical doctor…. ‘When I perform surgery, I marvel at the shimmering, lush layers of fat that spread apart as I open up the body.  Those cells insulate against cold, provide protection for the valuable organs underneath, and give a firm, healthy appearance to the whole body.’ I had never thought of fat quite like that!

“‘But those are just side benefits,’ he continues. ‘The real value of fat is as a storehouse. Locked in those fat cells are the treasures of the human body. When I run or work or expend any energy, fat cells make that possible. They act as banker cells. It’s absolutely beautiful to observe the cooperation among those cells!’

Philip Yancey goes on to say, “Each individual Christian in a relatively wealthy country like America is called to be a fat cell. America has a treasure house of wealth…. The challenge to us, as Christians, is to wisely use those resources for the rest of the body.”

“Ever since talking to Dr. Brand, I have taken a sort of whimsical pleasure once each month in thinking of myself as a fat cell—on the day I write out checks… It has helped my attitude. No longer do I concentrate on how I could have used that money I am giving away; rather, I contemplate my privilege to funnel those resources back into Christ’s body to help accomplish his work all around the world.” (World Concern Update, January, 1982)

May God bless you so that you can bless others!

—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa.

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Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: tomtripp@frontiernet.net