Genuine Christian Benevolence
In today’s sermon passage from the Sermon of the Mount (Mat 6:1-4), the Lord points out one aspect of Christian life that each of us need to reflect upon: Christian love and benevolence towards the needy. The Mosaic Law was prescriptive of various practices in the life of God’s people to extend care and generosity to the poor and vulnerable. It included a “Poor Tithe” wherein one-tenth of produce grown in the third and sixth years of the seven-year sabbatical cycle was given to the Levites and the poor (Deut 26:12). It also prescribed the law of Gleaning, where harvesters were to leave some of the grain unharvested for the poor to glean.
The New Testament is also very explicit in teaching Christians to be merciful and benevolent. It is part of the commandment to love our neighbours. The Apostle John also says “…if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? (1Jn 3:17). Caring for those in need is an important aspect of the Christian’s BEING, because we have been redeemed to become more and more like Christ, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2Cor 8:9).
Because giving to the poor is such an important part of the Christian life, and yet we are still under the influence of the old sinful self, hypocritical behaviour is an ever-present pitfall of ulterior motive, i.e. seeking praise and recognition from people rather than the Master. Fundraising in the secular world, and even in some churches play on this weakness of human nature by making sure that the big donors’ names are publicised.
Like all the other teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, the nurturing and exercise of genuine and unpretentious Christian benevolence can only succeed by seeking the Lord’s strength and intentionally submitting to His prompting. When the opportunity to exercise mercy and love befalls us, and we may be prompted by the Spirit to respond, yet a reluctance and the inclination to satisfy an ulterior motive may arise in our hearts. At that moment, admit our weakness to the Lord, and ask Him to change our hearts and minds. That is the first step of submission. We will find that the willingness and strength to submit to His prompting will grow, and we can overcome that temptation. Over time, such experiences will strengthen our biblical values and builds our Christian character.
May each of us put this into practice today as we are reminded to be the person that Christ has redeemed us to be.
在今天主日講道，從登山寶訓中（太6:1-4），主指出基督徒生活中有一方面，是我們每個人都需要去反思：對有需要的人施予基督徒的愛和恩慈。摩西律法定規了上帝子民生活中的各種指引，就是對貧窮和弱勢社群施予關懷和慷慨施贈。它包括 “為窮困者十分一捐獻” ，以七年安息年為週期，將第三年和第六年農產品收成的十分之一提供給利未人與貧窮的 (申 26:12)。它還定規了拾麥穗的法則，收割莊稼者要留下一些未收割的穀物供窮人去拾取。
「凡有世上財物的，看見弟兄窮乏，卻塞住憐恤的心，愛上帝的心怎能存在他裏面呢？」（約一 3:17）。關顧那些有需要的人是作為基督徒一個重要的生命素質，因為我們已經被救贖，應變得越來越像基督，因祂「…本來富足，卻為你們成了貧窮，叫你們因祂的貧窮，可以成為富足。」（林後 8：9）。