via Take Your Vitamin Z by firstname.lastname@example.org (Vitamin Z) on 10/25/09
“Like nothing else could ever do, the gospel instills in me a heart for the downcast, the poverty-stricken, and those in need of physical mercies, especially when such persons are of the household of faith.
When I see persons who are materially poor, I instantly feel a kinship with them, for they are physically what I was spiritually when my heart was closed to Christ. Perhaps some of them are in their condition because of sin, but so was I. Perhaps they are unkind when I try to help them; but I, too, have been spiteful to God when He has sought to help me. Perhaps they are thankless and even abuse the kindness I show them, but how many times have I been thankless and used what God has given me to serve selfish ends?
Perhaps a poverty-stricken person will be blessed and changed as a result of some kindness I show him. If so, God be praised for His grace through me. But if the person walks away unchanged by my kindness, then I still rejoice over the opportunity to love as God loves. Perhaps the person will repent in time; but for now, my heart is chastened and made wiser by the tangible depiction of what I myself have done to God on numerous occasions.
The gospel reminds me daily of the spiritual poverty into which I was born and also of the staggering generosity of Christ towards me. Such reminders instill in me both a felt connection to the poor and a desire to show them the same generosity that has been lavished on me. When ministering to the poor with these motivations, I not only preach the gospel to them through word and deed, but I reenact the gospel to my own benefit as well.”
- Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians
John Stott, writing 27 years ago (I Believe in Preaching, p. 69):
It is difficult to imagine the world in the year A.D. 2000, by which time versatile micro-processors are likely to be as common as simple calculators are today.
We should certainly welcome the fact that the silicon chip will transcend human brain-power, as the machine has transcended human muscle-power.
Much less welcome will be the probable reduction of human contact as the new electronic network renders personal relationships ever less necessary.
In such a dehumanized society the fellowship of the local church will become increasingly important, whose members meet one another, and talk and listen to one another in person rather than on screen. In this human context of mutual love the speaking and hearing of the Word of God is also likely to become more necessary for the preservation of our humanness, not less.
To whom much is given – much is required.
Here is a summary of what God spoke to us this Lord’s Day out of Galatians 5 about walking by the Spirit.
We are dependent upon the Spirit of God for new life, a new heart, and new birth so that we are birthed into the family of God.
We are dependent upon the Spirit of God to enable us to fulfill the law of God (to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength AND to love our neighbor as our self).
We can love only if we are led by the Spirit of God or walk in the Spirit or bear the fruit of the Spirit.
Therefore we ought to acknowledge our complete inability to be the hands and feet and heart of Christ – our utter hopelessness in loving our neighbor as our self – or doing anything but sin apart from Christ.
We must bank on the promises of God to be good and always good and all of His promises to give us as His children all of the inheritance of Christ. Heaven is sure and will be immeasurably sweet and we must bank on it if we are to walk by the Spirit.
If we are to walk in the Spirit then we ought to (we must) pray for God to enable us. Pray that the Lord would CAUSE us to increase and abound in love…
Then, after acknowledging our hopelessness and inability and after banking on God’s promises to be our one source of good both now and eternally; after praying for His help; then we must practice LOVE. We must love our neighbor as our self. We must think about how we would want to be helped if we were being discriminated against. Think about how we would need to be loved if our children had pressure (almost unbearable pressure) towards immorality, violence, and failure. Think about how we would want to be helped if we were without a job or electricity or water or food – even if we had squandered a portion of our resources through bad decisions. Think about how we would want help if it were our children that were among the 26,000 each day dying of hunger and preventable diseases. Think about how we would want to be visited if we were alone and widowed. Think about it and LOVE. Do what we ought to trust in the promises of God for the future and the Spirit’s enablement now.
Then if God enables us to walk by His Spirit and show the love of Christ and bear any fruit THEN give God thanks for it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God. For he who comes to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).