16 July 2001

It is at this time of year that many hearts are turned to the birth of Christ. Tokens of love are passed from heart to heart as we enjoy the season of giving. As we grow older, we learn that the greatest joy of this season is seeing others enjoy whatever we have chosen as our person love token. Giving is one of the greatest examples of discipleship. The Bible depicts giving as ministering to others. A hand to touch the lonely, a smile to warm the heart, a kind word, a cup of coffee, a morsel of food for the needy are all found in the list of ministering to others. What joy Jesus must have experienced as He gave to others. It is for this reason that He came, to minister to others: "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many"-Mark 10:45. Ministering to the needs of others is the greatest sacrifice one may make, yet it is the most rewarding. Many times, the smile on the givers face is brighter than the receivers. Why? Because that Christ-like experience warms the soul. Jesus gave the greatest give that could be offered for others. He gave His life as a payment for others that they may not have to pay for the penalty of their own sin. Was there joy in that part of Christ's ministry? The writer of the Hebrew letter tells us there was. Jesus saw His joy before the gift was given. In speaking of Christ, he writes, "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God"-Hebrews 12:2. It was the joy of giving for His brethren that encouraged Him to endure the cross. Ministering to the needs of others may be something as simple as taking a cup of coffee to your spouse in the morning. It includes acts of love such as taking care of mom or dad in their later years; mom taking care of her sick child; and the father working to take care of his family. These self sacrificing acts are many times referred to as duty, when, in reality, they are acts of ministering to the needs of people we love. It is all sacrificial and Christ-like. Surely, this mindset can make our ministering more enjoyable. When we speak of ministering, we are talking about opportunities that open up to each of us every day that allow us to be Christ-like. Like the good Samaritan. He ministered to the one that was lying in his particular pathway of life. Perhaps he was on his way to work or just enjoying a stroll, that was his opportunity to be Christ-like. He didn't publish his act of ministry in the paper nor did he expect any thing in return. He didn't even tell the man his name. Though the priest and the Levite knew more about the scriptures than the Samaritan, he was the one that Jesus commended. That tells us that religion and godliness is more than knowing a doctrine, belonging to a religious order or adhering to a set of rules. God's people are known for their ministering. When Jesus described His sheep on His right hand He did not mention their church affiliation, he declared their acts of ministry, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me"-Matthew 25:35-36. Any of the above acts of kindness bestowed upon one of God's children is the same as ministering to Jesus personally. In that way we give Him a personal gift. Let the joy of giving overflow this year for Jesus!! Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.