Transformation Garden - Nov. 10, 2010

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"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler. . . ."
II Samuel 12: 4
New International Version

EXPLORATION

"Refrain From Helping"

Definition of refrain: To hold oneself back.

"You cannot be your brother's keeper if you are caged by selfishness."
Anonymous

Have I ever "restrained" myself from assisting someone in need?

"One can be a miser or a savage and be selfish but not a Christian."
Anonymous

INSPIRATION

"Selfishness is the root and source of all natural and moral evils."
Nathanael Emmons

Yesterday we looked at the spirit of greed which drove a rich man, in the story Nathan told David, to go to a poor man and steal his one sheep and prepare it as the meal for a wayfaring traveler.

The story Nathan related was further illuminated by our reference to the interaction between Abraham and his nephew Lot in Genesis when they were dividing  their own herds on the land near Sodom.

Today, I want to look at the spirit of unselfishness that Jesus encourages us to have in our own lives. And this spirit is in direct contrast to greed, covetousness, and selfishness. It is also the opposite of the word restrain which I defined at the beginning of our devotional, for a spirit of restraint, combined with greed, is often what holds us back from doing what God calls us to do.

The author, Thomas Henry Huxley, observed, "A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes." This to me is an extremely instructive point to ponder for it is at the crux of why Jesus said it is so difficult for a rich man to enter heaven. When we are given the opportunity to do anything we want, buy anything we see, and act any way we wish, the consequences can be totally destructive. You have to look no further than the headlines of popular culture to see the results of individuals having too much money with too few constraints to recognize that riches without heavenly wisdom can be toxic.

This is why, when Jesus came to earth, rather than give accolades to those who amassed great wealth, he gave warnings of the dangers associated with "unrestrained" wealth. And then, He kindly laid out a blueprint which yields a well of understanding that not only guides us throughout our lives but also helps us handle, with unselfish hearts, the bounty He bestows on each of us.

In Matthew 25, Jesus gave His listeners a glimpse into the future. He wanted them to understand the basis of how the balance of justice was carried out in His heavenly kingdom. This was the way Jesus described the coming judgment:

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory (His majesty and splendor), and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats. And He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand but the goats at His left. Then the King will say to those at His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and your brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me. I was naked and you clothed Me. I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me.' Then the just and upright will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit you?' And the king will reply to them, ‘Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least (in the estimation of men) of these My brethren, you did it for Me." 
Matthew 25: 31-40
Amplified Bible

We need to remember how the people who were listening to Jesus held King David in high regard. He was their "hero" king. The city of Jerusalem was even called, "the city of David." So think how the words of Jesus may have resonated with some who had knowledge of Nathan's story of the rich man going and taking from the poor when he had so much wealth within his own walls.

Here is Jesus, years later, instructing His followers in the way of God's kingdom. In stark contrast to the self-restraining spirit of selfishness that says, "Me, me, me," we find Jesus says that those who will inherit His kingdom aren't the do-gooders that shout their works of charity from the roof-tops. Instead, they are the kind-hearted individuals, who are constantly giving while they don't even realize what it is they are doing. Unselfishness in their lives is as natural as breathing. To be rewarded for their acts of unselfishness seems beyond anything they could ever dream about.

I love this poem written by an anonymous author. The thought that is shared by these words reminds each of us that by harboring greed and succumbing to restraint that keeps us from helping another, we hold back the blessings God longs to shower upon our own lives:

"Go break to the needy
sweet charity's bread;
For giving is living "the angel said.
"And must I be giving
again and again?
My peevish and pitiless answer ran.
"Oh no," said the angel,
piercing me through,
‘Just give till the Master
stops giving to you.'"
Anonymous

AFFIRMATION

"Lord of all mercy and goodness suffer us not by any ingratitude or hardness of heart to forget the wonderful benefits that thou has bestowed upon us this and every day; but grant that we may be mindful all the days of our life of the incomparable gifts which thou ever givest us through Jesus Christ our Lord." 
Source Unknown (Early Scottish)

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
mailto:Dorothy@Transformationgarden.com

P.S.  My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian.  You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348. 

For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.

 
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