“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'” (Matthew 25:40 NKJV)
I have a friend who was raised in a somewhat well to do family and they were all raised to know the Lord. They were active in a mainline denomination and were not negative towards the more pentecostal ways. The sons went on to do well in business like their father and the daughter did well but encountered some challenges in life, not of her own making.
As one of my accountability friends in the Lord, she told me about her personal financial struggles, which seems to be in a similar pattern as mine right now, and I know she aggressively pursues the Lord with her heart. She works hard to be righteous and she works hard to love people and is of a generous spirit socially and tangibly.
Being somewhat prophetic too, we talk about the times with a shared understanding and we believe that God is proving people to Himself in people in this season. People are being tested in ways that don’t seem logical or fair except that God is testing them and is proving their character in Him.
We talk about what it means to be a Christian and to be in ministry and about who is real and who is not, and what is real and what is not, even in our own lives. When she told me about her struggles – and believe me, I know she has been a big giver – and that her relatives own several houses for themselves while she struggles to make ends meet, I know something is wrong with that picture.
God has blessed her family and they are ignoring her in her time of need, especially when you look at it according to their means versus hers right now. We also talked about people who were serving the Lord and those we knew who were wavering and what it meant to be a friend to them, even fellow ministers. People go through stuff!
In this day and time everyone is encouraged to minister and all hands on deck are needed. But the times are hard for many people, even many more than in months past. Finances and/or the lack of them are a strong testing area of the Lord.
My friend is one who would rather not see a dime and have the love of family and friends. Of course you need money to pay your bills but money does not drive her, and she knows what a better life is because she has lived it in her childhood and adult life. She is not bitter, but in sharing we do question people who have a way to make for others and don’t do it. When you look at it from the bigger picture of our world and national events, it speaks.
We have another friend we know who has struggled and is backsliding some. We talked about the role of love in that situation. That friend has even been in the ministry and there have been times because of the backsliding that we have had to cut that friend off of some socializing because of the wayward ways that were destructive.
When we began that conversation about our friend I was encouraging her to be strong in the Lord about what was right because I know her tender heart. We both care and want to see the best and not the worst for our friend. But that is the friend she told me who called and asked her if she was in need and if she could help and she did!
It’s really strange when the friends of the world are better than the friends of the Church! She brought up the Scriptures in Matthew 25 about those who were needy and who responded and how Jesus said to those who did not that He never knew them – and the word “knew” there means to intimately know Him.
We were talking about the fine line of righteousness and benevolence. This seems to be a proving season, especially when the economy is as tough as it is for so many more people, and how we need to not lose heart.
As someone like her who has seen better days financially, I shared how I have seen some do their benevolence as a token work and brownie point rather than it being real love. You may need the help but you feel slimed by the charitable act because it was not done with real love. With some you feel like they have done you a favor because they are in a better position at that moment and they expect something in return for it later.
The Church is more than a social network! It should be that, but it also should be more than that. If it operates on love, then you want to feel that love when it is given. Many have talked about the Spiritual abortion that they have experienced or seen when it was the “right thing to do” to get souls saved.
They got them to the altar, counted their brownie points for their merit badges, and then totally forgot the souls there. They left them without help or assistance and for all practical purposes abandoned them and thus they floundered and went back to the world. Some just expected them to be a financial resource for them!
Well, if you read the Word of God and think God won’t judge that, think again! God must be anchored in your own soul before you can do any kind of effective ministry and the Church (which includes the local church and all its conferences) is the place where that is supposed to happen!
How is it that we go from acquaintance to friendship? As Christians we can only do that in the Spirit of the Lord. Good works do not always equate with Christian ministry and some people in the world can give with more love than the church people do!
God alone knows the heart, and the fear of the LORD is wisdom. Many live by the fear and approval of man, but do not regard the struggles of their fellow man. If they help, it is only to gain an advantage. Prophetically speaking, it seems that God is dealing with some of this!
I appreciate my friend’s accountability in making me to see love. Our backslidden friend still had love at work in her while we know people active in the ministry who do not have so much. It’s important to know what real friendship is. We have been through a season of betrayals that I had hoped was mostly over, but as yet I don’t see that season as over in the basic sense.
I was flabbergasted to see my friend’s struggles while she has as wealthy of a family that she does. She is not a big backslidden sinner. If anything, it seems to me the reverse! Some people who are efficient in finances will label people “sinners” when those others are less efficient than they are, but their “label” is really about the discipline of the flesh more than the Spirit.
My friend would give up everything she had to see her family saved and in the love of God. And while I want to be mad at them, she is an intercessor for them, because she really loves them. But the point is, for all their appearances, do they really KNOW Him?
To know Him is to really love Him and those He cares about. It’s not about the brownie points. It’s not about how efficient we really can be. God will use the wealth of the wicked to minister to the righteous. The wicked may save it up only to die and leave it to those who will spread it around. But there are some who are sad for the loss of their souls. They will mourn for them!
The Kingdom of God works by love. Friendship with God has fruit and evidence. My friend was even quick to point out to me when I said that discerning of spirits was important that that was a gift and not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. How grateful I am for a friend like that!
Yes, they come from the same Holy Spirit but the nature of God is more important than the gifts of God. Even though hard times may be here for many, it’s important to know the nature, character and ways of God more than His acts and gifts.
In the “big world view” of things right now, we may not be on the radar, but in Heaven I hear a reading. We must pursue love.