“Do not forget to entertain strangers… Remember the prisoners as if chained with them.” Hebrews 11:2-3
The Church of Jesus Christ always stood head and shoulders above every other institution at excelling in generosity. From its infancy, when believers sold their possessions to assure that not a single member of their community would be in need, to the present when the American Church will donate a whopping 30% of Singapore’s GNP this year, Christians have always been hilarious givers. It’s no wonder – those who are big-hearted have discovered a hidden source of joy in 2 Corinthians 9:7 – God says He loves those who love to give!
It’s not just about dollars either. Our benevolence is expressed in so many ways. A disciple named Judas (Act 9) opened his home on Straight Street in Damascus to the very man who was en route from Jerusalem to drag him and fellow believers ruthlessly to prison.
Yet another, saved only a few hours, harboured and nursed bloodied Paul and fellow prisoners at his home in the middle of the night, then served them all a meal. As a prison guard, he knew it could cost him his life. He did it anyway (Act 16:33-34).
Jason was a new believer of not more than a few weeks when he sheltered Paul in his home even as the authorities were seeking to brutally arrest him for preaching the Gospel.
When they did not find Paul, Jason faced the brunt of an angry mob and vile authorities in his place. He knew the risks!
Hebrews 10:32-34 affirms this attitude was common, stating that the early Christians had their properties plundered because they stood in solidarity with those who were being cruelly persecuted for Christ. Scripture says they accepted mistreatment joyfully. Wow!
These virtuous displays have continued to the present. Far and away, Christian charities are the world’s most generous and active, serving people indiscriminately from all faiths and irrespective of political affiliation or race.
My daughter Anna and her husband Nate (both doctors), are soon bringing four of their kids to Egypt for five weeks to volunteer at a medical mission there. Many of us have done similar things, and count these times among the most cherished of life’s experiences.
Christians’ response to the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 was so impactful (many stayed for months – even years – others typically lingered for days), that the Communist mayor of Chengdu gathered dozens of House Church leaders to recognise their contribution and personally thank them.
When the tsunami struck neighbouring Aceh and other regions in 2004, again, the altruism and roll-up-your-sleeves approach of the Christians brought great honour to the Name of Christ.
Cornerstone, when we’re filled with the Spirit, we’re transformed. The Father’s heart in us then compels us to kindness. THIS IS WHO WE ARE! We discover faith in Jesus is so much more than a bunch of slogans or lofty ideals.
By nature, and spurred on as we consider the nail-scarred Saviour’s sacrifice for us, we embody the code that it’s truly more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).