Created for good works

by Michael E. Brooks

“So she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die'” (I Kings 17:12).

Fund-raising is the necessary price to be paid for the privilege of doing mission work. I don’t know of anyone who truly enjoys asking others for money.

If you are such a person, I commend you, if you are using that gift for good work. Most of us do it because we love the work it allows us to pursue, and because of the good use to which contributions are put.

We are fully aware that most individuals and congregations who give to us are making sacrifices in other areas in order to be able to help with our work. It is not easy to ask an elderly person, struggling to make ends meet off of a fixed income, to give to the work of preaching in other nations.

Thankfully there are many such persons who don’t wait to be asked, but like the Macedonian Christians of the first century, beg for the privilege of helping in the Lord’s work (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).

When the drought and resulting famine for which Elijah prayed had prevailed to the point of starvation, God sent him to a widow of Zarephath, saying that she was instructed to provide for him.

When he arrived he found her gathering firewood. The prophet asked for bread, and she told him that she was about to cook her last morsel of food for herself and her son, after which they must starve.

Elijah then told her to cook her last flour and oil for him. When she obeyed these seemingly selfish and greedy instructions, he told her that the flour and oil would continue until the famine was ended (1 Kings 17:14).

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

That is undoubtedly one of the most difficult of all his teachings for us to follow. We are trained from birth to walk by sight, always seeking security. We buy insurance against accident, fire, theft, illness, disability, and old age (i.e., retirement). We are constantly warned against incurring too much debt, against spending more than we have as income.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit encourages us to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

This is not intended to prompt us to unnecessary or foolish risks in secular affairs, but rather to lead us to trust God and obey his commands, even when we do not know just what is in store for our future. God will provide for those who trust him. Just as he filled the bin and the jar for the widow of Zarephath, so he can and will supply all that we need, so long as we are seeking his righteousness first.

The fund-raiser is reminded that giving accomplishes two kinds of good. There is the good done through the work that is funded. There is also the good done to the giver, through his or her act of unselfishness, as spiritual blessings are provided by God.

“It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it” (2 Corinthians 8:10-11).

Giving benefits both the giver and the recipient. If we should fail to provide opportunities for giving, we would deprive Christians of a path to great blessings.

“We are his workmanship, created for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

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