“. . . each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren. . . .” Acts 11:29
Food was scarce, starvation was imminent, the crops had failed in the southern part of Palestine and the people were suffering from a shortage of food. The Church was in its early stages of growth and was in desperate need of provision. The Church in Antioch heard of the great need and were moved to send relief. Two leaders were chosen and commissioned to deliver the gift in person.
Barnabas and Paul came traveling from Antioch to Jerusalem. They were not on a business trip, neither were they on vacation. They were on a mission of mercy. They came bearing the first Christian relief fund.
The Church has always been generous. At first, we might be tempted to think the motive for mercy was natural instinct. We see a need and we meet it. But it wasn’t sentiment that moved Paul and Barnabas.
The real reason was knowing Jesus took natural instinct and refined and recast it into love, He made it the mainspring of Christianity. Jesus taught that love was not one of the important things of faith – it’s the only thing.
A person can be rich, famous, successful, achieve great things, even be compassionate towards those in distress, but until love is cultivated, and rules and reigns over one’s life, all is empty, hollow and void. We recognize the fact we have failed to pass the true love test. We have allowed lesser things to dominate our drives and rule over us. Love is the drumbeat of our Savior.
We are marching under orders of one who did not say, love if it’s convenient, love if you get along with the other person, if they are a benefit to you, or if you agree with their politics. We are marching under orders of Jesus who said love and love again, friends or foe, likable or unlikable. Regardless of race or religion. Whether we gain or lose, whether we benefit or suffer. For love is of God, and without love there’s no life worth talking about.
Is your generosity from natural instinct or born from love above?