This article is about charity and showing the goodness of God in society. 2 Corinthians 8:9 is also discussed.

Source: Una Sancta, 1997. 2 pages.

The Interests of Others

It happened the other day again. We were home from church a short 20 minutes, just settling down with our company to enjoy a hot coffee and a piece of special Sunday cake. The phone rang. A woman's voice, somewhat halting, unsure, uncomfortable. A story…, so many disappointments…, a request: would you have anything for us to eat? Maybe a loaf of bread? And some coffee?

What to do? It wasn't the first time I've received such a request. A plea for something to eat, money for petrol, a pair of socks(!), lodging for the night; we've had them all. What to do? Oblige the requests? Society has parasites, no doubt of that. I recall the time a man came to my house to ask for petrol money; he said he had to bring a car full of children to the other side of the city, and had no money to go farther. Surely the church would help, I refused his request; something didn't add up. He left, straight to the pub around the corner …

What to say to the lady on the phone? We'd just come out of church, had just heard God's Word of abundant life for unworthy sinners. She asked for something to eat; my cake was waiting beside my chair … She asked for some coffee; mine was getting cold … "Sure," I said to her, "I’ll see what I can put together for you."


Our Lord Jesus Christ enjoyed glory with the Father from eternity (John 17:5) He left it all behind in order to enrich the empty. Paul says it this way to the Corinthians:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.II Corinthians 8:9

At the time of Christ's birth, various of the Corinthians addressed in this verse were not yet born, while others had already been introduced to the perversions that characterised the city's culture. By the time the gospel of Christ's triumph on Calvary came to the elect of Corinth, various were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners (see 1 Corinthians 6:9 ff). Yet these were amongst the elect of God, and so Christ gave up His glory for their salvation. He made Himself poor, emptied Himself on the cross, so that Corinthians who were at that very moment idolaters, thieves, drunkards, sodomites might be clothed with the rich robes of Christ's righteousness.


Our own ancestors were no better than the Corinthians. Fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, theft, covetousness, drunkenness: who will maintain that the heathen tribes of Europe were free of these vices?? More, if – as God has said – every imagination of the thoughts of a person's heart is only evil continually (Genesis 6:5; ff Genesis 8:22; Jeremiah 17:9; Job 14:4; Romans 3:10 ff), would any one dare maintain that we don't have the wherewithal to give ourselves to various of these vices, any or all? The Lord knows what we're capable of, and He certainly is not flattering about our potential! His Word is clear: we are poor, so pitiably poor, worthy only of damnation eternally.

Yet for the likes of us the Lord has given up His glory with the Father! He emptied Himself, became a slave in order that you and I might be enrobed with righteousness! He travelled from riches to rags – and worse! – so that rebels and vagabonds, idolaters and sodomites might be made children of God!

And see how richly God has blessed these sinners for whom Christ has died! By God's gracious decree we are allowed to be righteous for Jesus' sake before the throne of God, without spot or blemish! My sins of fornication, of idolatry, of adultery, of homosexuality, of sodomy, theft, covetousness, drunkenness: all are gone, forgiven, washed away in the blood of God's only Son. And grace upon grace: in His boundless mercy the Lord has granted us a very rich heritage in confessions and history; there is a wealth of knowledge and experience and insight that has come down to us through the generations of God's work in our families. And grace upon grace again: we have an abundance of material possessions, the envy of countless millions in the world around us.

Do Good🔗

By definition the Christian cannot be stingy, cannot think of his own comfort, cannot be cold to another's needs. Our Saviour emptied Himself for our benefit. Freely we have received, freely we are allowed to give of that abundance. Christ's self-sacrifice for our salvation is catalyst for us sacrificing too for the benefit of the needy around us. As Paul said to the Philippians:

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus …(2:4f).

And to the Galatians: … as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (6:10).

My company persuaded me to take him along. He'd just heard of a house doctor making a call. and ending up in the hospital himself. Two, then, might be safer than one. A loaf of bread, a carton of eggs, some coffee, a few oranges, a pamphlet introducing the church: we set out to satisfy something of the woman's needs.

We found the house easily enough: dilapidated, the lawn neglected, the car a wreck. I prayed for strength, protection, picked up the goods, and went for the door. A heavy set woman, not quite middle aged, invited us into an ill-furnished kitchen. Her companion sat on the other side of the table, obviously bound to his wheel chair.

We set our limited goods on the kitchen table, and spoke some fitting words. The gratitude of the two knew no bounds …

No, I haven't heard from them again. That's not so important either. A tiny reflection of Christ's amazing love for a sinner as I am was shown in that house. That's important.

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