Do not be just a Recipient, be a Giver too

By Bro. M. L. Francis, Chennai

We are living in such a perilous time that we are not yet able to come out of the terrible pandemic. The world is reeling under the pressure of endless troubles. God’s people are no exception but share a part of these sufferings.

In Christian circles, we have been hearing innumerable messages of comfort and peace, which men and women seem to expect from the preachers. No doubt, many of our loved ones are still going through great struggles. In a situation like this, it is fitting for us to comfort those who are going through pain.

Apostle Paul places before us some valuable suggestions in 2Corinthians 1: 3 - 7

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”

Who is the source of our comfort?

Paul says, ‘God is our comforter’. Let us keep this in mind when we try to comfort others. Why is He comforting us? God comforts us so that we will be able to comfort others in troubles. This means that only those who have received comfort from God will be able to comfort others. This needs us to go through lots of experiences in life.

Paul doesn’t say that anyone can comfort anybody. And just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” V. 5. After we have gone through sufferings, we comfort others with the comfort we received.

There are people who will pour out some words mechanically, hoping to comfort others without sincerity. They have no real understanding of the depth of the grief of the afflicted. They are like subtle politicians who love to do it as a duty. Consequently, they will have to face many shocking’ results.

A person who fails to permeate himself into the sorrow of the broken heart cannot comfort effectively. Remember, it is God’s Spirit working in and through us, bringing heavenly peace into the crushed soul.

So, how should be our approach?

a)         We must draw near the grieving men and women with utter sincerity, and not for outward show.
b)         Our approach should be with a hope of seeing a change in the person. Notice v. 7a, ‘our hope for you is steadfast.’
c)         We need to come to the afflicted with full conviction; then there would be good result. V.7b “you will also share in our comfort.” (ESV)

I wonder why Apostle Paul added this thought in his letter right in the beginning. I suppose Paul was thinking that those Corinthian believers were still in the state of childhood. They had not come to spiritual maturity. The writer of Hebrews depicts how a baby is like. Heb. 5:12, 13. Babies always love to receive, not to be generous. They desire to remain in a comfortable place. They want to be the centre of attraction. Such characters are among us too. Please don’t mistake me. There are exceptions however.

Now, let me come to the second point. John Shedd once stated as he was talking about the responsibilities of believers, “ships are safe in the harbour, but it is not what ships are built for.” This statement speaks a lot.

This is very vital for us to turn our attention to. Often we are stuck in the thought of our own comfort for too long. Of course, we need consolation and comfort in the time of grief. But, being in the assembly, if this is the only thing we are seeking always, then we are in the danger of being pushed back to our spiritual infancy. We can never do anything for the One who gave His life for us.

We are comforters and should not be the recipients only. We are to be wounded healers. While bearing our own wounds we should become ‘the balm of Gilead’ Jer. 8:22. If we are indifferent to the afflicted, if we fail to console the downcast, then, as the Lord asserted, we are salt without savour worthy to be trampled by men outside.

My point is this: The purpose for which we are called is being thwarted. In the book of Isaiah we see a vivid picture. Look at Isaiah 58: 12
 “Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”

This is an awesome responsibility that lies on the shoulders of the redeemed. If you look into the previous verses you will see a series of wonderful doings of the Lord on behalf of His people.
“If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”  “If you satisfy the afflicted soul….the Lord will…. satisfy your soul….” (Isa 58:10-11NKJV).

The Lord doesn’t stop where men and women often stop and say ‘amen’ to it. We can trace at least 4 things in verse 12:

    1. You shall build the old waste places
    2. You shall raise up the foundations
    3. You shall be called the Repairer of the Bread
    4. You shall be called the Restorer of streets to dwell in

So, both the above passages from Corinthians and Isaiah are two aspects where the Christian life comes to surface.

a. What we receive?

b. What we should render?

This is the crux of the matter: Receive and do something. Paul received comfort, and he comforted others. The apostles received power and went doing great things for the kingdom. Opportunities lie all around us. Do we take these things seriously?

Dear brethren, in this perilous time, let us listen to what God is speaking to us. Let us leave behind the state of infancy and grow into spiritual maturity. May the Lord take us to the victory ground. May the name of the Lord be glorified. Amen.



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