My wife won’t be happy with me when she awakes to this devotional. I may have to spend tonight on the couch. Nevertheless, here goes: I am grateful that for 36 years Jill has exemplified and taught me about the gospel-enriched life. Let me share something that I trust will provoke each of us to good works.
Jill has taught me that, as Christians, we should be actively looking for opportunities to do good. Last week, she told me that she prays daily that the Lord will send hungry people to our gate. She understands the principle that we should “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). It would seem the Lord is answering her prayers. And not only are the hungry being fed, but some are also being clothed. If she keeps it up, I may have to lock my clothes cupboard. But then again, perhaps not, for as Jesus taught, we will always have the poor with us and what we have freely [read: graciously] received, we should be willing to give to those in need (Matthew 10:8).
I’ve written about this before, but it is a theme worth repeating: True faith works; the grace that saves is the same grace that gives. The Macedonians, in their poverty, exemplified this spiritual reality, as seen in their material generosity. Paul recorded, “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:2). He goes on to explain how they “begged earnestly” that Paul would take their financial gift and share it with saints in need (vv. 3–4). Their giving spirit arose because they had earlier given something else: “They gave themselves first to the Lord” (v. 5). That’s beautiful.
Because they gave themselves wholly to the Lord, they could let go of everything they had. They were simply following the example of Jesus, who gave himself for sinners. And with that gift, we get everything we need for, as Paul wrote, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). The gospel is about God giving the greatest gift: his Son for our sins. Therefore, those saved by this gospel are given new natures and they too become givers.
The statisticians tell us that 1.8 million South Africans have lost their employment. That is as staggering as it is unfathomable. It means, among other things, that my wife’s prayer is going to be answered for a long time to come. It means that, as a church, we will be provided with plenty of opportunity to do good.
Jesus told a parable in which he taught that, if we feed the hungry he sends our way, we are feeding him and, if we clothe them, we are clothing him (Matthew 25:35–36). I am grateful that, today, when Jesus came to our gate, my wife made sure he went away with food in his stomach and with a warm jersey for his chest.
Christians are called to both proclaim the gospel and to live out the implications of the gospel. That is, we are to declare the gospel and to do good because of that gospel. There are many in our church who are doing good because of the gospel. Our offerings through the lockdown indicate this as have the multitude of kindnesses which you are doing. Let’s keep doing good. Let’s each of us daily “pre-prayer” for those the Lord will send our way.
Praying with you,