“Therefore, let us always offer through Jesus the sacrifice of praise to God — the fruit of our lips, telling the truth about his name. Don’t forget to share and to do good. God is pleased with sacrifices like these.” Heb 13:15-16 (Simple English Bible)
She was a new Christian. Mpho was almost thirty, had only a high school education and a menial job in a fast food restaurant. Her family was far away because she had begged a ride to the big city looking for employment. Without an adequate education, Mpho could only find jobs with long hours and little pay. A friend invited her to a Christian youth group which met on Friday evenings. Without any extra money, Mpho thought it would be an easy way to meet people.
It didn’t take her long to accept Christ as her Savior. She was immersed and felt the bright life of the New Life keenly. She’d ask everyone she met if they knew Jesus, which caused some surprise. People didn’t know how to take it. To those who would listen, she explained her own journey from darkness into the light. Sometimes, it made her late for meetings or work but she always made up the lost time. She explained that this was her commitment to her Lord.
Maybe we think that the word ‘sacrifice’ means giving up money, possessions or personal gain. So this word is usually used in as a non-compliance suggestion for our lives. We know we should sacrifice but is really isn’t necessary unless we’re pushed to the wall. The writer of Hebrews has a different aspect: doing good and proclaiming the truth.
Is that so difficult?
“It is none of my business to judge people on the outside of the congregation. God is the One who will judge outsiders. You are supposed to judge people on the inside. So, put this evil man away from you.” I Cor 5:12-13 (Simple English Bible)
Karen’s husband wasn’t a Christian but he provided transport every time she wanted to attend a worship service, Bible study or other church activity. He’d park across the street and listen to the radio while he smoked cigarettes. He never tossed butts into the street or disrupted anyone from coming or going. Members of the congregation were annoyed at this blatant outrage of this man smoking near church property.
Some of the members wanted Karen to ask her husband not to park there and smoke. Rather, he should drop her off, drive somewhere else and do whatever he wanted. When the service was finished, he could drive back and pick her up again. Karen was confused and went to the pastor, who talked to the leadership. It was decided that since it was a public street, legal parking, that it wasn’t a problem. But certain members made it their business to put pressure on Karen. She eventually found another church home.
Christians avoid sin and the appearances of evil. We are a peculiar people who actively follow and serve our Father in Heaven. If we bicker or pick fights over little things, it distracts us from the real issues and prevents us from helping those in need. Our allegiance is to Christ. Our hands and feet serve Him. Maybe we should keep our eyes on the road?
“Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing good deeds. They must learn to be productive, providing for real needs.” Titus 3:14 (Simple English Bible)
Nancy wasn’t satisfied with her duties in the church. She was on a roster to supply flowers for the services once every eight weeks. Although she enjoyed selecting and arranging the blooms and people complimented her, Nancy felt that she was doing the bare minimum with her talents and abilities. She was a widow of six years, her children were adults and had married, producing three grandchildren. Her life was secure, healthy, happy and blessed.
Yet there was this nagging doubt that niggled her. One day, a beggar outside the grocery store and she had an idea. She went back inside and bought him a bag of groceries. He was so grateful. Excited, Nancy called the pastor and suggested a feeding program for the homeless. He was alarmed that she might be exposed to danger and possible injury. Alone, she moved forward and out of her own pocket, provided what she could for those who were hungry and without recourse. The congregation tried to slow her down. They didn’t want ragged and smelly people coming into the church but she didn’t stop.
Paul emphasized the necessity to be involved in ‘real needs’. Those who can’t provide, who are unable to find work, who are in despair and are lonely — these are the ones who need the blessings that God can provide through His believers.
And, we are those people. Aren’t we?