Transcript of Midweek Meditations podcast episode aired on Wednesday, 1st July 2020.
What can you afford to give away? Do you give regularly to charity, church, and missions? What do you do with your possessions? Are you generous with what you have? Or do you think that you can’t afford to do that now, so you’ll be generous when you have more?
On one hand, I get that. In fact, there are times in my life I have found myself in need of other people’s generosity. It’s humbling to be in need. Yet, as Christians, we’re called to be generous people.
Let’s think on this as we meditate on the words of Jesus from Matthew 10:40–42:
Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.Matthew 10:40–42 (NIV)
Jesus is speaking here to his disciples. If anyone welcomes a disciple, they welcome Jesus himself. Wow! Let that sink in for a moment. To welcome a disciple of Jesus, a follower of Jesus, is to welcome Jesus himself.
Later, Jesus will say something similar about acts of compassion:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. […] Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.Matthew 25:35–36, 40 (NIV)
How many of us think we serve Jesus in such a personal way? Our acts of hospitality, generosity and compassion are done, not only for Jesus, but to Jesus. Jesus is on the receiving end of our hospitality, generosity, and compassion. Did you get that? Jesus—the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour—receives our hospitality, generosity, and compassion. My mind is getting blown to bits even as I say that.
Sharing the Reward
It doesn’t end there though. If that’s not incentive enough, whoever welcomes a servant of Jesus, a disciple of Jesus, shares in their reward. It’s like saying, if you welcome an Olympic gold medalist, you get a gold medal too.
What’s the reward of a prophet or a righteous person? Isn’t the reward the crown of life (1 Corinthians 9:25; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)? The eternal, victorious life found in Jesus.
What does that look like in practice? Over the years, even when I was still living at home, I can’t keep track of the people welcomed into our home. But more than that, the people who were servants of Jesus, disciples of Jesus, and shared their lives with us.
They encouraged me in my faith. They challenged and even rebuked my sin. They gently corrected or opened my eyes to the truth in the Scriptures. They prayed for and with me. They shared stories of God at work in and through in their ministry and work. They pointed me to Jesus and the life found in him.
When we welcome these kinds of people, we get to share in their experience of Jesus. We get to share in their ministry and work for Jesus. We get to share in their wisdom and knowledge of Jesus. In some spiritual way, we get a share in their reward. What a blessing!
Can I have a cup of water please?
After all this, you may still be thinking, “But I have nothing to give.” How can I do this? Did you notice what Jesus said:
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.Matthew 10:42 (NIV)
Are you sure you have nothing to give? Not even cold water? He’s not talking about cold water from the fridge. No, this is just plain drinking water. Whether that’s from a tap, collected in a rain tank, drawn from a well…or whatever it may be.
I’ve been privileged to be on the receiving end of some extravagant meals. I’ve even been blessed to be able to eat at some amazing restaurants. But let me tell you about the most generous meal I’ve ever had. Take a guess…
It was a meal prepared and shared by students in the slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was a simple meal of fish, steamed vegetables, and rice. But it was the most generous meal I’ve ever been blessed to eat. What do you have to give?
Jesus says even if you’ve got nothing else to give, what about a cup of cold water? Are you generous enough to offer a cup of cold water? Even a child can afford to do that.
Heavenly Father, who gives us generously from the storehouse of heaven, hear our prayer. Open our eyes to see your generous provision of our daily needs. Open our hearts to share with others all you’ve given to us, no matter how much or how little. Help us to be generous with whatever we have.
Lord Jesus, who gives us life by mercifully giving your life for ours. May we treasure not this earthly life, but the eternal life you’ve given to us. May we share all you’ve given to us, in doing this know the privilege of serving you.
Holy Spirit, convict our hearts of our greed and selfishness. Reveal to us our false economies of need and want. Help us to be people who love God, not money. Give us opportunities for hospitality, generosity, and compassion.
In all things, God, may your kingdom come on earth as it is heaven. This we ask in Jesus’ name, amen.