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12 October 2010

On the Receiving End

Many years ago I worked at a music store in Decatur, AL, and had the privilege of working with some friends who were very dedicated to following Jesus Christ. I remember a couple of occasions when I didn't have money for lunch (usually absent-mindedness on my part) and one of them would try to give me a few bucks. I also remember this happening when I didn't need money for lunch.

It was a mix of being polite and self-sufficient that prompted me to say, "Thanks, but don't worry about it. I'm okay." My response to offers like this had always been to refuse them, not because I didn't want to eat, but because I wanted to put others before myself and I didn't want them to have to make up for my mistakes.

These friends broke me of this habit pretty quickly. The first time this happened, I remember my friend Christian ("Webe") saying, "Listen, if you don't take this, you're going to be depriving me of a blessing, because I want to do this for you." It wasn't just a platitude; he was serious. I agreed reluctantly.

This stuck out in my mind, and I realized that he was right. If I were in his position, it would mean a lot for me to be able to do a simple good deed for someone. There's a difference between accepting hospitality and being a leech.

Sunday evening after our meeting in our home, a few of us were talking and my wife mentioned something I'd never really thought about before.

If faith without works is dead, when we refuse the genuine hospitality or gift of another believer, we're essentially assisting in rendering a part of their faith dead!

That's pretty big. The community of believers is founded upon Jesus Christ, and at the heart of our community should be generosity. When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach, raise the dead, heal the sick, and give as freely as they had received, He instructed them not to refuse the hospitality that people would give them (Matthew 10:9).

This is a wise saying: in order for generosity to flourish, pride and self-sufficiency must not.

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