Herald JournalColumns
Feb. 20, 2006, Enterprise Dispatch
Pastor's Column

Charity that matters

Pastor Robert Ramphal, Oster First Covenant Church

Jesus gave a good lesson on how to be charitable to people that we do not know, but he introduced the lesson by speaking on how to be a guest in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 14, verses 7 to 14.

Here is the lesson that Jesus gave us when he was invited to a wedding. He saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats, so he told them, “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. Then, the one who invited you will come and say, ‘Give your place to this other guest.’ You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place.

“When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, ‘My friend, take a better seat.’ You will then be honored in front of all the other guests.

“If you put yourself above others, you will be put down, but if you humble yourself, you will be honored.”

Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back.

“When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. They cannot pay you back, but God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death.”

It is the latter part of this lesson that truly addresses the issue of charity. The holidays have come and gone, but I am sure most of us must have put on a Christmas or New Year’s dinner for our immediate family and close friends. I am also sure it was a good dinner and there was a lot of laughter, fun, food, and gift giving.

Everyone left with a great sense of thankfulness and appreciation for all the good things they received. Some of the guests probably said, “Let’s do it again next year because this was truly fun and enjoyable,” while others may have said, “It is my turn, and next year, you all will have to come to my home.”

So it goes, year after year during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. without a second thought. While there is some charity in any such undertaking, Jesus offers one of the most revolutionary ideas about entertaining.

He knows the nature of man and the need to be compensated for doing good. He does not scold us for being kind to our friends and families, but he offers to us a fail-proof plan that allows us to do the greatest good and to receive a most joyous blessing.

Rather than always inviting friends and families we know, He recommends that we invite strangers instead. In this way, we can show God’s goodness to others that have never experienced such kindness.

More so, He went further and gave us an example of the kind of strangers we should invite first. He said when you have a dinner, invite the poor, who have no way of repaying you by inviting you to their home; invite the homeless, who do not have good clothing and may not have good hygiene; invite the crippled, who may or may not have opportunity to work for a living or who simply live on the streets begging for their livelihood; the lame, who may be unable to come to your home on their own and need transportation; and the blind, who cannot help themselves traverse through this life without a helping hand and acts of kindness and generosity.

Jesus said that God is watching our charity and that he will reward each of us when his people rise from death. This is the reward that really counts.

We should do these acts of deliberate and random charity. This kind of charity really matters to God, and when we do it, we should not broadcast it to the world or else we may lose the blessing.

Jesus said that we should not let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. He was reminding us to not boast about how much we have helped people. God sees our secret acts of charity and He will reward us one day openly, but most of all, He will reward us in heaven.

Be kind and charitable to one another, but more so, be kind and charitable to the homeless, the blind, the lame, and the disadvantaged. The honor we bestow on such strangers by inviting them into our homes, to sit at our table and visit, and providing a dinner is so uplifting to the soul that it becomes unimaginable for us to comprehend.

More than that, we are also honoring God by showing love and compassion for our fellow man. God respects everyone, regardless of their human predicament, and He wants us to do the same.

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