Christ commanded with clarity and demonstrated with humility, that we should take part in “humanitarian” duties of caring for the downcast. He was completely adamant about getting involved with society, not just with teaching and preaching on an exegetical or expository level, but on a level of social need; giving to those in need and then guiding them within the Church.
When we demonstrate God’s love through biblically ethical behavior towards others, we are actually humbling them for the redeeming power of Christ to take effect on them. Take a good look at the Proverbs Paul uses in Romans 12:20:
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink; for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head. – Proverbs 25:21, 22
Presenting and demonstrating God’s love to a person can bring them to a place of humility and shame. Romans 2:4 says, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance…”
God’s goodness – which is demonstrated through His people – is drawing converts. Good deeds – demonstrated with love, of course – helps bring people to repentance. It begins to convict them of their sin because benevolence is actually the Law of Christ, which is a faith that is working as opposed to a dead faith (James 2:20). People are convicted by hearing the doctrine of repentance, no doubt, but many need to be shown repentance through Christians demonstrating our own repentance (our changed lives – our witness) to them.
How our Benevolence Works for our Sanctification
Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Our first motives for giving, without a doubt, are to be evangelistic; meaning, we give to others not simply to receive back, as if God is a sort of slot machine, but rather we give because people are created in the image of God and are worthy of becoming a part of his kingdom! But what does this giving do to us?
How would you identify your personal relationship with God? Do you see him at work in your life? The Scripture above says that God will give back abundantly what we give to others. If we can look back at our lives and honestly say “wow, I could not have done that without divine intervention” that is an indicator that God is working in your life. It’s not that God wants to be our slot machine, but it is more like God wants to be our stock! Do you put stock in God? Do you trust him? His stock is always good and always growing. When we give to those in need we are trusting that God is going to grow the very economy of the kingdom and that we are going to remain in the midst of it. If we are in the midst of all the growth; if we are one of the very hubs of His growth then he is going to use us a conduit for his grace! The more we can flow through the more he is going to give us.
The more that we are used by God the closer we will become with Him. It is inevitable. As we experience His grace we gain wisdom and solidarity on just how His people receive goodness. We become more aware of God’s goodness and mercies. It is indeed a wonderful thing!
We can also see that God rewards us eternally for the benevolence that we accomplish during out lifetimes. As we “store treasure in heaven,” as Christ puts it, we build our faith toward heaven.
Matthew 6:1-4 says, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
How our Benevolence Becomes a Witness to God’s Creative Order
As we see in the book of Genesis, God’s creation was good! And although now tainted with sin from the fall of Adam and Eve, we, as people, still remain “image bearers” of God, for He created us in His very own image (Gen. 1:26).
We care not just for believers in Christ but also for non-believer because they too are created in the image of God. And since they are created in the image of God we should treat them as such, hoping and praying of course that they will come to know Christ, but never doubting that they are people too, in need of immediate care and support. Not every non-believer that we help will come to know Christ but many will!
Our love is demonstrated by the fact that we love one another! This is the greatest commandment, that we would love one another (John 13:34-35). This means loving both believers as well as non-believers. Christ made a lifestyle of loving all sorts of people, from the richest to the poorest, and from the most religious to the most heathanistic.
The Scriptures say that when we give to people, God is blessed. We are essentially giving to God when we do this. After all, it is his creation, not ours!
Matthew 25:34-46 says that helping the distressed is a vital part of our judgement:
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”