Christian Universe ™
A Pattern Of Love And Service
May 02, 2010
We have much freedom in Christ. Being free allows us to freely choose to serve one another. We serve God by serving our Christian brothers and sisters, and all of humankind. This means that we help those who are poor in an effort to raise them from poverty. We help those who find themselves in a sudden, deep need. We also support those men who take the gospel to the lost, as well as the elders in the local churches.
A Pattern Of Love And Service
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 05-02-2010
Presented to Load church of Christ on 05-09-2010
We have great freedom in Jesus Christ. Part of that freedom is choosing to help our brothers in sisters in Christ, as well as unbelievers who need our help. In doing so, we achieve the favor of those both inside and outside of the congregation. In our freedom, we chose to do the right thing.
1 Peter 2:15 "For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God."
Galatians 5:13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
In our freedom, we choose to serve one another.
1 Corinthians 7:21 "Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant."
We studied last time that we serve Christ, and God, by serving each other. That which we do, or fail to do, we do to Christ. If we use our freedom to serve one another, the world will take note.
Acts 2:42 "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
These Jewish Christians, aware of the instructions of the Lord to the ancient Israelites to look after the needy, did so by selling what they had and pooling their resources, similar to how the Israelites pooled and distributed the manna during the exodus. The Israelites doled out an equal amount per person, while these early Christians distributed to each as needed.
One might argue that the pattern was not the same, since one distributed equally, while the other distributed by need. However, the cases are different. In the one case, they already had other things that they needed, and were distributing food only, and it was determined by the Lord that each needed the same amount. In the other case, there were needs for different things, and so each need was met as it arose. There is a consistent pattern: to love and help one another in need!
We see this pattern repeated when the apostle Paul instructed the Gentile churches to help the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem when they were in a state of deep need.
Galatians 2:9 "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do."
Romans 15:25 "But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain."
It was this collection about which Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians.
1 Corinthians 16:1 "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia."
The saints in Jerusalem were in need, so Paul – as he had promised James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who were saints from Jerusalem – asked the Gentile Christians to collect assistance for those needy saints. Some look for a pattern – nay, a commandment – in this, failing to see that the pattern is not a commandment for a specific “act of worship”, as some like to designate it, but is rather a pattern of loving one another, and assisting in times of need. That is the pattern!
It is not a commandment for an “act of worship”, as some advocate. Paul wrote a follow-up letter to the Corinthian Christians in which he plainly states that it is not a commandment.
2 Corinthians 8:1 "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
As Paul had written in other letters, Macedonia was willing to send assistance to Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 8:6 “Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.
11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.
12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.
23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf."
The apostle Paul, in this second letter, pointed out that he had not given a commandment, but rather had hoped that the Corinthian (in Achaia) Christians would also contribute to the needy saints at Jerusalem, as had their fellow Gentile Christians from Galatia (Ephesus and Colosse) and Macedonia (Philippi and Thessalonica). He traveled through these two areas, collecting the contributions, on his way to Corinth.
After retracting what seemed, at first, to be an order, or a commandment, he employed several other methods of trying to get them to collect their promised contributions. He used Jesus as an example, he called upon their love and sincerity, he pressured them to keep their promise to help, he all but shamed them, he asked them to give from their surplus rather than from sacrificing their own needs – keeping in mind that they might one day be on the receiving end, he compared it to the gathering and distribution of the manna, and he concluded that it should also be done so that they might live up to the expectations of the other congregations.
2 Corinthians 9:1 "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:
4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.
5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."
This collection is unlike any other way of assistance found in the scriptures, but it still follows a pattern of love and service, of assisting the needy saints. It causes people to glorify God!