A Call to Alms

By Not Known

Our theme this month is ‘People Helping People‘. Jesus challenges all of us to a
deeper engagement with one another through his teaching (Mat 5:38 – 6:4). His
words are sharp and demanding.

For a start, people helping means going beyond our obligations and it may even
take us against our instincts (5:38-42). Thus the insulting slap of an evil-doer is to
be accepted and we are to go beyond justice and duty in giving our possessions and
time. This is a very practical expression of Jesus’ word that we must deny
our selves in taking up the Cross and following him (Mat 16:24).

Jesus is likewise sharp when he extends our care-giving to our enemies (5:43-48).
As he says, we all love those loving us and our family. However, it is a Christian
distinctive to love our enemies and pray for them rather than against them.

Note also his words about our giving of alms to the needy (6:1-4). Our financial
help is not to be done as a showy act of public charity. That kind of giving has an
earthly reward but is unnoticed in heaven. Instead we are to make a deliberate
effort,to conceal our giving from recipient and observers. This is the charitable
equivalent of a blind trust.

It’s one thing to summarise Jesus’ words but another to enact them.

Much of our people helping has a polite feel about it. We give a little time here, a
little money there but soon withdraw to our place of comfort. That’s a sharp
contrast to Jesus.

In fact, Jesus has already done all that he calls us to do in people helping. He went
beyond duty in loving his enemies. He didn’t stand on his rights as God’s Son on
heaven’s throne. He didn’t give us his cloak but his life. He didn’t go the extra
mile, but crossed from heaven to earth for us. He left his place of comfort for a
bloodied Cross. That’s people helping to the max.

If we want to know how to help we need do no more than listen to Jesus’ teaching
and look to his deeds. If we want motivation to help, it’s all there in the Cross. As
we consider how he helped us we are pushed way beyond our polite acts of
charity. Let’s let our Saviour teach us congregational care.