BellaVista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

12/04/2019

RandallCaselman

 

Selfless Service

 

  The fruit of the Spirit is a result of God living in us, and when He does, we produce a crop of characteristics that could never exist unless He is present. The fruit of the Spirit is Goodness. God is good: "How abundant is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who love You, those who take refuge in You" (Psalm 31.19). We are to conform to His image, "imageo dei." In conforming to His image, we become conduits of His goodness, His mercy and grace. The Greek is "agathosune," and doesn't speak of an attitude as much as it speaks of a lifestyle. A lifestyle characterized by helpfulness, doing good to others. Someone with "agathosune" will selflessly act on behalf of others, not goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous. The NRSV and Phillips both render the Greek generosity. Generosity that is not about what's in our bank account, but about what's in our heart.

 

  So, we gotta ask, are we generous in good deeds done to others? Where we once harbored: Selfishness, Ugliness, Envy, Jealously, Hatred, Cruelty, Rebelliousness, Spite toward others; We are now proactive in serving others...

 

• Visiting the sick...

• Caring for the orphans and widows...

• Giving to the poor...

• Providing for the homeless...

• Loving our enemies...

• Praying for the lost...

• Sharing Jesus...

• Lifting up the fallen...

• Encouraging the weak...

• Forgiving those who have sinned against us...

• Bearing one another’s burdens...

* Being hospitable...

• Being kind to one another...

• Preferring one another.

 

  Micah affirmed this idea of goodness to others when he wrote: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6.8). This is goodness in God's eyes.

 

  It becomes easy for us to excuse ourselves from being generous to others because we feel we are not rich. But this fruit of the Spirit has nothing to do with riches. Goodness is not about the amount, but is about the moment: What has God placed in our hand? Who has He providentially placed before us that we can selflessly serve?

 

  As we read these two narratives, let us catch a glimpse of goodness as a fruit of the Spirit: "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything, all she had to live on” (Mark 12.41-44). Michael Card says of this event: The two coins have special significance. She could have given one and kept one, but didn't, She gave both! Generosity! Sacrificial Generosity!

 

  "Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it" (John 12.1-6). In this narrative, we see radical goodness, extravagant generosity.

 

  Paul gives us an example of such selfless, sacrificial, radical, extravagant goodness when he commended the churches in Macedonia: "I want to tell you, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done for the churches in Macedonia. Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem" (2 Corinthians 8.1-4).

 

  People will forget what we said, will forget what we did, but people will never forget how we made them feel with our generous goodness. Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "We cannot do a kindness too soon, for we never know how soon it will be too late."

 

—Randall Caselman