Christian Universe ™
Serving God By Serving Each Other
April 18, 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.
Serving God By Serving Each Other
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 04-18-2010
Presented to Load church of Christ on 04-25-2010
We have great freedom in Christ, and great personal responsibility, as we studied last time. Included in our responsibilities are taking care of ourselves both spiritually and materially. Additionally, we have the responsibility of taking care of our near relatives. Beyond that, we have an obligation to also help our Christian brothers and sisters in need. If unbelieving members of our community are in need, and we can help, we must also do that.
Matthew 25:31 "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
We see that we serve God by serving one another. God has charged His people with taking care of the poor and needy. He takes a personal interest in the situations of those people. This is a universal law of God, for we see this in every age of man, including under the Law of Moses and in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Deuteronomy 15:1 "At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.
2 And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD'S release.
3 Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;
4 Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:
5 Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.
6 For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.
7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land."
Not only were God’s people told to both leave and gather portions for the poor, both believers and non-believers, but He also instructed those with more to lend without interest to their brethren, the poor followers of God. If the debt went beyond six years, it was canceled. They were to help even if the seventh year was near at hand, and were not to do it grudgingly.
Verse eleven shows that help was to be given to both the poor and the needy. The poor are those who, for one or more reasons, have fallen into a life of poverty. The needy are those who may have been doing well, but are now faced with a need that they cannot meet by themselves.
Exodus 22:25 "If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury."
Deuteronomy 23:19 "Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:
20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it."
Proverbs 19:17 "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again."
The goal was to have the more successful believers help those who had less, so that the whole nation of believers would become better off, so that they did not have to borrow from non-believers, becoming indebted to them. God promised blessings to those who did this.
Proverbs 22:7 "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."
This is why the Lord did not want the believers beholden to the unbelievers – He did not want them to have control over His people, and their lives.
James 2:6 "But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?"
James 5:1 "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you."
We must have mercy upon those who have less. We must assist the poor and the needy. Our goal is to use what God gives us to improve the lives of others. When we all prosper, it strengthens the congregation of God’s people.
If we will follow God’s instructions, we will see all the lives of all of the members improve. Those who have more will give, or sometimes loan without interest, to those who do not have enough. In this way, the wealth of each member and their family is increased, thereby increasing the wealth of the entire congregation.
We saw this play out in the distribution of the manna from heaven while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.
Exodus 16:14 "And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating."
Everyone worked at gathering the manna. Some gathered more than they needed, others had not enough. The problem was solved when those who had too much shared with those who did not have enough, so that no one had too much or too little—each had exactly what they needed. It was pooled together, and given to each person equally – each person received an omer. This is a unit of dry measure that some say is equal to anywhere from two to four quarts.
Why would some gather more, and some, less? There could have been many reasons. Some were older, some may have been sick, some may have had injuries, and so forth. Different people have different abilities, also, meaning that some are good at manual work, while others are not. All these could contribute to different amounts being collected. It did not matter. Since all were in the exodus from Egypt together, they all worked together for the good of all.
1 Peter 3:8 "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:"
1 Thessalonians 4:9 "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing."
1 Corinthians 10:23 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth."
Truly, we serve God when we serve one another. God has always asked His people to look out for each other. When we are blessed with more than our brethren, we need to see if there is some way that we can help them improve their lot in life. By doing so, we make the whole congregation stronger, and in a better position to help each other in the future, as well as to help others in the community who are in need. This is how we prove the love of God.