The Apostle Paul frequently wrote on the theme of doing good for all people.
When Paul talks about the freedom we have in Christ, he essentially says it is expressed through doing good things. In Thessalonians, it says, “And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.” In 1 Corinthians, he writes, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord…”
And in Timothy, he says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Paul says, first, in order to do good, we must transfer our trust from ourselves to God.
If we have anything above what we absolutely need, we tend to trust in that, don’t we? It doesn’t have to be finances, it could be skills. It could be experience, intelligence or talents. We all have many things that are way above what we absolutely need to survive, and Paul knows that we tend to trust in those things.
The reality is, in the financial statistics alone, if you make more than $10,000 a year, you are wealthier than 84 percent of the world’s population.
In America, we are all wealthy, at least financially, but also in so many other ways. Just in my life alone, there is a breadth of talent and wisdom and experience with all sorts of treasures that I see my friends and family share with others. We are indeed wealthy people.
God has nothing against wealth. He just doesn’t want us to put our trust in wealth, because when we put our trust there, it does not hold. It’s not secure. All I have to remind you of is 2008 when the economy turned on so many people and took them by surprise. People who had put their trust in their finances found themselves in a whole lot of pain and trouble. Paul says, “Have them put their hope in God.. …Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
We can be generous because God is generous with us. We should not give out of guilt or shame, but just out of simple gratitude. Generosity, doing good with what we have, is the fruit of our gratitude.
We are wealthy, and God wants to invite us to join him in rebuilding people’s lives, rebuilding communities, and restoring dignity to the people around us. This is what it means to do good.
Matthew 25 says: “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.”
The people said to Jesus, “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?”
Jesus replies, ”Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
The word for share in the Greek is koinonikos. It’s a word rooted in a bigger word called koinonia, which means community, partnership, companionship, the sense of being together.
Sharing with another person isn’t just a one-time event. It’s journeying with others in community, partnering with them and what they’re dealing with. It doesn’t mean we’re going to know what to do. If you’ve never experienced cancer and you decide to walk with someone who is battling cancer, there is going to be a point when you don’t know really know how to help.
You might feel inadequate to help or serve, but you do your best and let God do the rest. We share in the journey with others.
When we invest in the things God is doing, when we join God in his work, we are investing in the heavenly safe, a safe that no one can break into. In Matthew 25, it says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance…”
So, as you serve, take your inheritance, the blessing that comes from God, the dividends that come when we join God in what he’s doing. There will be pleasure with the Lord one day, looking back on our lives and see what God has done through us. There’s no better joy than that.
I love when Paul says that this is this way we take hold of “life that is truly life”.
When we give, when we serve, when we share, we will experience the fullness of life, the fullness Jesus wants to give us.
How can you take hold of “life that is truly life” today? Pray that God will reveal an area where you can do good for someone else this week, and serve Christ as you do so.