3. Giving

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 5
"Give, and it shall be given unto you."—Luke, 6:38
Faith alone justifies, but justifying faith is not alone. Good works though they are not the causes of salvation, yet they are the evidences. Faith must not be built upon works, but works must be built upon faith. Faith doth justify works; works do testify faith. "I will show thee my faith by my works" (James 2:1818Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. (James 2:18)).
"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:15-1615If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2:15‑16)). There are some who perhaps will give the poor good words, and that is all. Good words are but a cold kind of charity. Let your words be as smooth as oil, they will not heal the wounded, let them drop as the honeycomb, they will not feed the hungry "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (1 Cor. 13:11Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)). 'Tis better to be charitable as a saint than eloquent as an angel.
"He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath skewed no mercy" (James 2:1313For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:13)). Dives denied Lazarus a crumb of bread, and Dives was denied a drop of water.
"I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink" (Matt. 25:4242For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (Matthew 25:42)). Christ doth not say ye took away My meat, but ye gave Me none.
Remember that excellent saying of St. Austin, "Give those things to the poor which you cannot keep, that you may receive those things which you cannot lose."
The way to lay up, is to lay out. Other parts of your estate you leave behind, but that which is given to Christ's poor is hoarded up in heaven. That is a blessed kind of giving, which, though it makes the purse the lighter, makes the crown the heavier. You shall have good security; "he that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will He pay him again" (Prov. 19:1717He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again. (Proverbs 19:17)). You shall be paid with over-plus. For a wedge of gold which you have parted with, you shall have a weight of glory. For a cup of cold water you shall have rivers of pleasure which run at God's right hand for evermore. The interest comes to infinitely more than the principal.
Your charity must be free. "Thou shalt surely give... and thy heart shall not be grieved" (Deut. 15:1010Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. (Deuteronomy 15:10)). That is, thou shalt not be troubled at parting with thy money; he that gives grievingly, gives grudgingly. Charity must flow like spring water. The heart must be the spring, the hand the pipe, the poor the cistern. God loves a cheerful giver.
We must give that which is our own (Isa. 58:77Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (Isaiah 58:7)). "To deal thy bread to the hungry", it must be bread of thy own, "For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering."
Do all in Christ. Out of Christ all our alms-deeds are but the fruit of the wild olive. They are not good works but dead works.
Do all for Christ. As Mary did out of love bring her ointments and sweet spices to anoint Christ's dead body: so out of love to Christ bring your ointments and anoint His living body, His saints and members.
Works of mercy are to be done in humility. Pride will be creeping into our best things; beware of this dead fly in the box of ointment. As the silkworm when she weaves her curious works, hides herself within the silk, so we should hide ourselves from pride and vanity.
The saints are brought in at last as disowning their works of charity. "Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred and fed Thee? or thirsty and gave Thee drink?" (Matt. 25:3737Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (Matthew 25:37)). A good Christian doth not only empty his hand of alms, but empties his heart of pride; while he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, he lays himself in the dust.
Distribute your silver and gold to the poor before "the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken" (Eccl. 12:66Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. (Ecclesiastes 12:6)). Make your hands your executors, not as some do who reserve all they give till the term of life is ready to expire. And truly what is then bestowed, is not given away, but taken away by death. 'Tis not charity but necessity. Be not like the meddler which is never good till it be rotten.