I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Luke 16:9
“So far our Lord’s meaning is quite plain; and truly it seemeth strange, in a world where men value friends of a certain kind at so high a rate, that to bind the needy to us by the tie of gratitude is a service so much neglected. Truly, when we want so many blessings, and God has made such large promises to the bountiful, the man acts an unwise part for his own good in both worlds, who does not greatly value the prayers of his humbler, weaker brethren. O bear this in mind, and make your charities, if you can, more personal and special than is the fashion in these modern days. Let your gifts, some of them, at least, be not only a tax paid somewhere, because men must not live in a Christian state without acknowledgment of their dependence upon God, but an offering, for Christ’s sake, to some selected brother. I see not how you can make the sick and suffering your friends on other terms; and be assured they are friends worth having; for God, who seeth their need, and hath compassion on their sorrows, and heareth all their cries, may send us showers of blessings in answer to their prayers.”
J. H. Gurney in “The Mammon of Unrighteousness: It’s Slaves and Masters” in Christian Almsdeeds and Faithful Stewardship (London: Rivingtons, 1862) 44.
Read the last part again.
“I see not how you can make the sick and suffering your friends on other terms; and be assured they are friends worth having; for God, who seeth their need, and hath compassion on their sorrows, and heareth all their cries, may send us showers of blessings in answer to their prayers.”
This inspires me as I minister in India this week (pain-free today thank God, and almost assuredly thanks to the prayers of many). I have seen sick and suffering people all over. They line the streets. The challenges of this context are so great it would be easy for God’s servants to be overwhelmed and give up.
Serving God’s servants in Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and now Goa, has been more than giving trainings and talks. I’ve been making friends who are suffering. They say the assistance is an answer to their prayers, which may explain why I feel so blessed in the process.
Do you know anyone who is sick or suffering? Don’t give them a handout. Think what giving a hand-up might look like in the name of Jesus. Do this not from the angle of making a friend. The heavenly blessing that returns to you just might surprise you.
That’s my hope and prayer for each of us as we explore compassion linked to generosity together.