"Who went about doing good." (Acts 10:38)
"Christ’s great end," says Richard Baxter (1615-1691), "was to save men from their sins; but He delighted to save them from their sorrows."
Jesus’ heart bled for human misery. Benevolence brought Him from heaven; benevolence followed His steps wherever He went on earth. The journeys of the Divine Philanthropist were marked by tears of thankfulness, and breathings of grateful love. The helpless, the blind, the lame, the desolate, rejoiced at the sound of His footfall. Truly might it be said of Him, "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me” (Job 29:11).
All suffering hearts were a magnet to Jesus. It was not more His prerogative than His happiness to turn tears into smiles. One of the few pleasures which on earth gladdened the spirit of the "man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3) was the pleasure of doing good — soothing grief, and alleviating misery. Next to the joy of the widow of Nain when her son was restored, was the joy in the bosom of the Divine Restorer! He often went out of his way to be kind. A journey was not grudged, even if one aching spirit were to be soothed. (Mark 5:1; John 4:4-5.)
Nor were His kindnesses dispensed through the intervention of others. They were all personal acts; His own hand healed, His own voice spoke, His own footsteps lingered on the threshold of bereavement, or at the precincts of the tomb. Ah! Had the princes of this world known the loving tenderness and unselfishness of that heart, "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8).
Reader, do you know anything of such active benevolence? Have you never felt the luxury of doing good? Have you never felt, that in making others happy, you make yourself so; that, by a great law of your being, enunciated by the Divine Patron and Pattern of Benevolence, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)?
Has God enriched you with this world’s goods? Seek to view yourself as a consecrated medium for dispensing them to others. Beware alike of stingy hoarding and selfish extravagance. How sad the case of those whose lot God has made thus to abound with temporal mercies, who have gone to the grave unconscious of diminishing one drop of human misery, or making one of the world’s myriad aching hearts happier! How the example of Jesus rebukes the cold and calculating kindnesses — the mite-like offerings of many even of his own people whose libation is not like His, from the brim of an overflowing cup, but from the bottom — from the dregs!
You may have little to give. Your sphere and means may be alike limited. But remember God can be as much glorified by the small saved from the earnings of poverty, as by the splendid benefaction from the lap of plenty. “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
The nobler part of Christian benevolence is not vast generosity, lavish monetary sacrifices. "He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). The merciful visit, the friendly word, the look of sympathy, the cup of cold water, the little unostentatious service, the giving without thought or hope of recompense, the kindly consideration of the poor — anticipating their needs — these are what God values and loves. They are loans to himself — tributary streams to the river of his pleasure; they will be acknowledged at last as such — “Ye did it unto Me” (Mt. 25:40).
Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind!
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