Tag Archives: benevolence

The Kindness of David — Jake Sutton

No one owes you anything. You also owe no one anything. Let us be honest with each other for a moment and come to the realization that there is no earthly reason for any of us to do any good whatsoever.

Yet we as members of the body of Christ don’t live by earthly tutelage. The readers who see my words in this article most likely  “live by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Thus we understand that goodness first originated from God and His marvelous benevolence (Mk. 10:18). David the psalmist wrote, “Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes” (Psa. 119:68). It is from this verse and others like it that we examine the obedient faith of one soul who accepted such statues and applied it to his own life, even in darker days. Thus we know, as God’s elect, that we are very much in debt to every man in bestowing the good news of Christ (1 Cor. 9:19). Going back to our initial thought of goodness, may we make some observations.

Goodness Is The Fruit Of God

I grew up in the North Georgia foothills in the city of Adairsville. The Cherokee natives called it Oothcalooga.  They deemed it very prosperous to grow crops of all sorts because the ground was so fertile. Altitude-wise, Adairsville is the lowest point between Chattanooga and Atlanta. If there were such a thing as the “middle of town” we would be it. Horticultural folks will tell you that this would be a wonderful place for one to grow crops. The Cherokee didn’t know the altitude factor, but the “fruit” of the land bore witness to that fact. My point is this: goodness is the “fruit” from which we ascertain God’s benevolence.

Outside of Christianity, there are what the world will call “good ole Joe’s,” people who were in a good moral climate and go around doing good deeds. The reason for this is because the world is so permeated with the effects and influence of the Gospel. Most folks know the “Golden Rule” but they don’t trace it to our Lord’s words in Luke 6:31. They are good folks but biblically do not know our Lord. As the Holy Spirit would say, they “aren’t known of God” (Gal. 4:9) because they haven’t come to obedient faith of the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5).

Kindness is something every person can observe from God’s creation (Rom. 1:19-23) and those created in His image (Gen. 1:26). We can clearly see His consistent love in making a world and her inhabitants live and have their being by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3). God has providentially loved us and shows unending kindness and not one honest person will deny that fact. With that in mind, we cannot be excused from exercising kindness to our fellow man in any regard. Even if you withhold a physical blessing from a man who will not work (2 Thess. 3:10), you are still to do so with kindness. Keeping their souls salvation in mind, we are commanded to deal with them in meekness (Gal. 6:1).

David showed us this in his treatment with the house of Saul during David’s reign as Israel’s earthly king. David asked the question in 2 Samuel 9:1: “…Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” With that question, you and I are reminded of the love that David had for Jonathan and that Jonathan had for David. These men had an affection for each other that was deeply rooted in trust and honor. It was evident that this was the case because it was custom for the king of a new dynasty to massacre those in cohort with the previous. However, David was the game changer and didn’t follow the custom of man; he followed the custom of God. Not only for the Lord’s sake did he do this, but also for Jonathan’s. David took an oath and made a covenant on behalf of Jonathan’s family, that he wouldn’t allow them to be absent from the kindness the two had for each other (1 Sam. 20:14-15).

Cripple Over Crown

Our text of 2 Samuel goes on to show that there was one soul left unblessed who was of the house of Jonathan, Mephibosheth. This would turn out to be Jonathan’s son who became a paralytic by accident (2 Sam. 4:4). For the faithful today, we have mighty men and women who are battle tested in the fires of spiritual war and we have a code of honor and trust with them like David and Jonathan. We consider those whom we can trust the best of friends; even their children are considered our own. An adopted nephew of David, Mephibosheth unfairly suffered physically because of the sin of Saul. David could have ended this poor soul’s life by living in the statutes of man, but chose rather to do favor to the cripple over his own crown.

David was simply reciprocating the kindness showed to him by God.  What a wonderful example to behold!  Are we not blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ?  Yes (Eph. 1:3).  Are we as New Testament Christians crowned as priests and kings?  Yes (Rev. 1:6).  But just as Moses said to the children of Israel, we must not forget that we were once strangers (Ex. 22:21) and are to treat the people “without the camp” with kindness.  The first lesson to see here is that we were all spiritual Mephibosheths before coming to Christ.  And like Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9:6), all we can do is pour out our soul and pledge allegiance to Christ by calling Him Lord (Acts 22:16) and giving our service to Him (Rom. 12:1). Recognizing we have nothing to offer for the Lord by merit, we are spiritually crippled (Matt. 5:3). Yet after dying in the waters of baptism, we rise to that newness of life (Rom. 6:4).  Like David, we bless others with the divine kindness bestowed to us. Who are we to withhold that from the world? May we never choose the decor of our own crown over the spiritual cripples in our lives.

Humiliation Over Honor

May we also like David suffer worldly humiliation for the cause of Christ. David had every worldly right and physical stature to walk into a room with a lame and defenseless man and slaughter the final member of the house of Saul for his own honor. Bystanders within and without the camp of Christ will speak with disgust over you showing kindness to the undesirables of the world. May we keep in mind that “all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). The source of that persecution isn’t limited to our heathen friends but also includes members of the body. Some will gather their circles together and humiliate you and your name because you, like David, want to show the kindness of God to the weak of the world (2 Sam. 9:3).

Notice to where David gives credit the idea of kindness: the God of heaven! Take comfort in knowing that God will always give honor to His faithful ones and never to the proud ones (Matt. 6:1). Rest assured, those of us like David, when we take the worldly “low road” please know that  God considers it the “holy road.” Make no mistake about it. “The Lord knows them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19). 

Jake preaches at the Moultrie congregation in Moultrie, GA.

 

 

 

 

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Lessons Learned From The Jerusalem Church – Tim Bench

Acts chapter 2 discusses in great detail many of the attributes and details of the church established in Jerusalem. It can and often has been often argued that the ideal, perfect, and biblical precepts of how a church is to be operated is exhibited within this chapter of Acts. In this article, we will briefly analyze and discuss four facets of this first century congregation and how the church of the 21st century can, and should, in many ways emulate this example.

The amazing effectiveness of the evangelistic efforts of the Jerusalem church

We are to “take the Gospel into the whole world” and “unto every creature” (Mark 16:15). Nowhere in scripture does a church fulfill this command and commission more effectively than the church at Jerusalem.

In Acts 2:41, we see 3,000 conversions from a largely Jewish audience in a single day, with 5,000 more on another day (Acts 4:4). Mass numbers of Jews had ventured to Jerusalem for Pentecost, one of the three feasts of the Jews (2 Chr. 8:12-13), with the others being Passover and Tabernacles. “Pentecost” was also known as “Firstfruits,” “Harvest Festival,” and “Feast of Weeks” (Lev. 23:15). Having such a massive Jewish audience would provide the perfect opportunity for these earliest Christians to widen their following. These mass baptisms likely occurred at the pool of Siloam, just south of the Jerusalem Temple, or possibly Upper Gihon or Lower Gihon (“Pool of the Sultan”).

The sheer numerical tallies, impressive as they may seem, of these early evangelistic efforts do not serve to adequately express the impact of these early efforts. We can certainly assume there were uncounted and unrecognized results from that first sermon in the power of Pentecost, lost to history. Masses of people heard the Word, and were converted, and obeyed and received baptism, and were thus added to the Lord; these people would soon return to their homes and native lands across the known world of the time, and would thus help dramatically to help spread Christ’s message. We can never know precisely how many souls were ultimately affected and influenced for the cause of Jesus Christ due to the Jerusalem church efforts, but certainly it would be exponentially higher than the specific numbers we are provided in Acts 2. A seed was planted, so to speak, which would spread across the Middle East, and ultimately the world.

Even Jewish priests, seemingly the ones who would be the most resolute in their dedication to Judaism, were brought to the gospel (Acts 6:7). Souls were added to the church daily (Acts 2:47), proving that these jaw-dropping evangelistic results were ongoing, consistent, and startlingly effective.

We may well never equal the amazing numerical conversion results, but we certainly can, and should, apply the evangelism efforts seen in Acts 2 to today’s world, largely apathetic and indifferent to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As is stated above, we cannot know the effect, for untold generations to come, of a person who obeys Christ…saving “merely one” might well be the prelude to saving many, many more. One saved soul, fervent and dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ, may influence many more to follow, across geographical areas as well as for the future.

Stewardship and need

We see a startling view of wealth, money, and stewardship from these early saints. Let us briefly consider the circumstances and atmosphere of the day. There were literally thousands of people on pilgrimage in Jerusalem, many of them hundreds of miles from their homes, with no effective way to provide for themselves food and shelter. The only realistic way to provide for the gathered masses was for followers of Jesus Christ to surrender their own possessions, selling what they owned so that the proceeds might be given to the church for “distribution” to every man who had need (see Acts 4:31-35).

The Jerusalem church was filled with cheerful and supportive givers (2 Cor. 9:7). There was no rampant greed, no thought of self, no hoarding or desire to gather and accumulate the temporal possessions of this world. Possessions were “all things common,” the expressed ideal of community of goods, lands, wealth, and possessions. This phrase does not, as some would claim, indicate that everyone was obligated to sell off everything that was owned, but instead illustrates the ideal that all held their possessions not for satisfaction of their own wants and lusts, but as a communal trust for the good and benefit of all. We see this theme expressed in 1 John 3:17 as well.

Many of the Jews present had traveled vast distances and had few, if any, supplies. People willingly give what they had so that others might have what they needed. This is a startling and foreign mindset for many in modern culture, where the pursuit of wealth and “things” is tantamount to self-worth and “success” for many people. The Jerusalem church did not merely give from convenience, as we often do today, but gave until they impoverished themselves (see Heb. 10:32-34, Acts 11:27-30, Rom. 15:25-27) for the cause and the mission of Jesus Christ. These amazing first century Christians did not regard their possessions and wealth as belonging to them, but instead as the property of the brethren as a whole, and thus to be shared as need arose (see Acts 2:44 and Acts 4:32).

How many of us today would truly be able to say that we would do likewise? Could you literally sacrifice EVERYTHING you owned in the name of Jesus, to help provide for the needs of others you do not even know?

Necessity of baptism clearly established

Numerous faiths, denominations, and “churches” of today will claim that baptism is not at all necessary for salvation, or that salvation may be a necessity but somehow precedes salvation. It is imperative that churches of today can effectively address this all-too-common viewpoint, which is also thwarted in Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, etc.

A cursory reading of Acts 2:37-38 seems to clearly illustrate the necessity of baptism, except for those who simply choose to not read the text openly. The Jews, upon hearing the preaching, were “pricked in their hearts” and ask the eternal question of “What shall we do?” for salvation (this clearly demolishes the viewpoint that “faith alone” or “faith only” provides salvation). Peter does NOT tell them that they are saved by faith alone, and replies “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Scripture is abundantly clear here in response to the “What shall we DO?” query. What they were “to DO” in response to hearing the Gospel is stated with no ambiguity by Peter. They were to be baptized for the remission of their sins.

Earthly leadership established

The church at Jerusalem was established and organized as per biblical principle, not upon the whims of culture of popular opinion. Specifically, elders were selected and installed to oversee the church (Acts 15:6 and Acts 15:22). Deacons were likewise selected (Acts 6:1-7). These men (and contrary to popular public opinion amongst many today, elders and deacons were NOT to be women) were selected based on qualifications very clearly specified and described in 1 Tim. 3:1-10.

It is important to note that the church at Jerusalem, established biblically, did NOT belong to or adhere to dogma from any “society”, national group, “accrediting agency”, “convention”, denomination, ecumenical “alliances”, board of directors, or any other earthly foundation. Each individual church was to be established and overseen by elders, who would be responsible for their individual congregation (Acts 11:29-30).

In summary, the Jerusalem church serves as the epitome of Christianity in its most pure, first century-form. The structure, function, and amazing effectiveness of this church should serve as the inspiration and goal of Christians every bit as much today as it did nearly 2000 years ago. We have no better model to emulate or imitate than the Jerusalem church.

Tulsa4@aol.com