Monday, November 28, 2011

Uncharitable Charity

I watched a sweet widow try to give a man a little money for helping her. He refused it completely, and even gruffly.

I could have thought it was noble at first, but something about NOT taking the small gift seemed - I don't know - inappropriate? If he had accepted it graciously as a thanks, it could have been a blessing to her heart and then given away to another if he did not need the money.

But I suspect this hard-working man despised the idea of taking charity - even from a willing giver. A very thankful giver. Why?

Well, I find it is probably pride - pride in personal self-sufficiency. Pride that we are ABOVE needing help or charity. To even have an appearance of receiving money from someone in a lesser position - or anything of value - would seem evil.

The fact is it was a gift rejected. She offered and even said "If you don't want it, put it in the offering plate!" Still, on those terms, he laid the money on the nearby wall. "Nope!" he said.

Now you and I can see that as almost noble - not taking money from a widow.

But you are also not accepting her gift.

Oswald Chambers showed me that we also do this with God and Christ.

The gospel of the grace of God awakens an intense longing in human souls and an equally intense resentment, because the truth that it reveals is not palatable or easy to swallow. There is a certain pride in people that causes them to give and give, but to come and accept a gift is another thing. I will give my life to martyrdom; I will dedicate my life to service— I will do anything. But do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are “rich,” particularly in the area of pride or independence, God can do nothing for us. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the essential nature of God is placed and made effective in us by the Holy Spirit. He imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus, making us truly alive. He takes that which was “beyond” us and places it “within” us. And immediately, once “the beyond” has come “within,” it rises up to “the above,” and we are lifted into the kingdom where Jesus lives and reigns (see John 3:5).