Sunday, 17 November 2013
…distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Romans 12:13
Continuing on with his stream of counsel, Paul now mentions “distributing to the needs of the saints.” The word for “distributing” implies “sharing” or “contributing.” The early church as recorded in Acts had all things in common (see Acts 4:32). In other words, it was what we could ostensibly term “communist.” However, this isn’t to be thought of in the sense used by communists today where people are forced into wealth distribution. Rather, it was voluntary. Nobody was compelled to resign their property or income. This is clearly noted in Acts 5:4.
As evidenced in Acts, this type of life didn’t work out and a new structure developed in the church as gentiles moved in. However, the concept of giving has continued to be a mark of Christianity which goes beyond anything seen elsewhere. Societies which distribute under the guise of fairness are actually the most crooked of all. What is rightfully earned is stolen away to give to those who don’t work. Christian giving is one of sacrificial love. It is giving not to encourage indolence, but to assist the truly needy. Further, this admonition of Paul speaks of taking care of the “needs of the saints.” Yes, Christians give outside of the faith, but this verse is speaking of tending to the needs within the faith.
Paul then finishes his thought today with the idea that we are to be “given to hospitality.” Hospitality here is different than the distribution just mentioned. It carries the concept of having an open door, a welcome mat in front of the door, and an offering in your hand for the one coming in the door. Hospitality is a personal sharing of one’s life and possessions rather than just putting money into a box to later be distributed. Showing hospitality communicates true love and respect for others who are entering into one’s presence. In his third epistle, John speaks of this –
“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.” 3 John – 5-8
Life application: Have you been abundantly blessed by the Lord? If so, when you’re at church this weekend, note someone who has been less fortunate and invite them to your house as a gesture of hospitality. Such kindness will reap great rewards for all concerned.
Lord God, how abundantly I’ve been blessed by You. I know that I have much more than I actually need and I have the ability to help others who have less. Give me a heart to not lust after more stuff, but to share what I have. It all came from Your open hand of grace and so now, remind me to open my hand in grace as well. Thank You for allowing me to serve You in this way. Amen.