By David Kowalski
In any endeavor, it is not enough to not do wrong. A salesman is not considered a good one if all he does is not harm the company he works for. The company expects him to actively do good for the company by making profitable sales. A truck driver is not counted as a good one for not getting in accidents with company trucks if he fails to make deliveries.
Likewise, the Christian life is not just one of passively not doing wrong. We are repeatedly told to actively love as Christians. One of the passages that has most deeply impacted my heart and challenged me to more Christ like living is Matthew 25:42-45 (NASB):
For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.
God evaluates our lives not just on the basis of the good and bad things we have actually done but also by the good we have neglected to do. Expressing the nature of Christ within us involves more than refraining from doing wrong. We must actively do good: “He [Jesus] went about doing good…” (Acts 10 38 NASB).
Missionary Morris Williams often challenged believers with the question, “What are you good for?” Showing the heart of Christ will have us choose to be compassionate with the love of God and actively seek for tangible opportunities to express that compassion.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts… (Colossians 3:12 NASB)
This tangible benevolence is not merely a means to an end. We do not measure its success by things such as how many people are influenced to come to our, particular church, but by how many and how well people’s lives are benefited by what we have done.
Christian authors used to refer to this as “disinterested benevolence.” This phrase does not mean that Christian benevolence is not interested in those we help. Real benevolence is, however, completely disinterested in what helping others does for us. If the purpose of our love does not end at the point of the ones we help, we are not really loving them but using them as a means to help ourselves. The cross did not make Jesus more divine or blessed. The “joy set before Him” was our salvation. Those who do not follow in His steps of selfless, tangible, love are not fully following Jesus.
Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality. — Jonathan Edwards
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