Monday, October 20, 2014

The benevolence of Job

Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. (Job 29:12-17)
From the law of Moses (Deut. 24:17) to the God's words to his people through the prophets (Isa. 1:17) to the words of Jesus while he was on the earth (Matt. 25:31-46) to the epistles (James 1:27) it has consistently been the express will of God that his people ought to be generous, sacrificial, benevolent people toward those who cannot care for themselves. In this passage of Job we see that while he was in the midst of his affluence he was being very benevolent to the helpless. Indeed, he seems to ascribe his affluence in large part to his kindness and generosity, a truth also taught throughout the scriptures. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38)
Not only does the bible regularly express these type commands and examples, but it also provides me with the motivation which ought to cause me to want to be giving and gracious from my heart: I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see! If God has so freely given me spiritual and eternal riches, how motivated ought I to be to share with others the temporal gifts he has given me? This caused me to ask myself if I could honestly say along with Job that I had been such an aid to the less fortunate, and if not, what are some practical ways in which I can do better at being that kind of biblically consistent Christian.

1. I delivered the poor that cried... and him that had none to help him.
There is a soup kitchen in my town, it is open for one hour in the afternoon, two days a week and they feed lunch to anyone who wants to come in and eat. I can donate my time and little money to help them feed the hungry. In so doing I would be obeying the scriptural commands and find an outlet for the for the vertical kindness that has been shown to me to be shared horizontally.

2. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me.
Every day in our country over 3,000 babies are killed! How many christians are actively working to be a voice for those who are "ready to perish" who do not have a voice for themselves?! I have donated to my local pregnancy crisis center multiple times, and I have gone to abortion clinics within a couple hours of where I live multiple times to preach the gospel and beg mothers not to kill their children. But I can do both of those more, this is no small issue! Oh that I could honestly say with Job that some have blessed me for helping spare their life when they were about to be killed!

3. I was eyes to the blind.
If you know someone personally who is blind you have a great opportunity to ask them how you can be a blessing to them, by driving for them, reading for them, or a dozen other small things that you probably take for granted with your eye sight and never think twice about. If you don't know anyone personally who is blind, you can volunteer online at to record yourself reading books to help the blind.

4. Feet was I to the lame.
Again, I'm a firm believer in prioritizing your time and efforts and if there is someone you know personally, perhaps in your church or a family friend who is elderly and can't get around much, offer to help them with housework, yardwork, errand running, etc. If you don't know anyone personally, a nursing home is a great place to start! Almost all of the people there are in wheelchairs or on walkers, they are literally lame and if "all" you do is visit them and spend a few minutes a week with them, you will probably never know how much they would appreciate that.

5. The cause which I knew not I searched out.
Job did not just sit around and wait for these cases to come to him, but if he didn't know of a cause, he searched for one! Have we become so caught up in our selves and our personal lives that we never take time to look for opportunities to minister and invest in the lives of those who are less fortunate than we.

A common objection to this kind of exhortation to benevolence and generosity is that perhaps that person has gotten himself into that situation by sin and poor choices and I don't want to reward that. While I do not want to discourage using wisdom and discernment, I also do not want to forget that my motivation to be kind and merciful is God's kindness and mercy towards me, which was shown to me in spite of the fact that I got myself into the position I was in by my own sinfulness and bad choices. I would rather err on the side of being too generous, too gracious, too benevolent. I think God will find that more acceptable than if I erred on the side of being too cynical, too selfish, and too stingy.