My Beloved the benevolent
Grace and peace wishing every goodness and blessing
St. Paul the Apostle, in his epistle to the Romans, proclaims the need for “Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Rom. 12:13, 15 St. Paul also wrote about the importance of ministering to the needy, or as he called it: “ministering to the saints” (Rom. 15:25-27, 1 Cor.16:1-4, 2 Cor.8, 9) He also wrote about being hospitable to strangers in his epistle to the Hebrews, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Heb. 13:1-2 and he discussed the importance of coming together among church members by saying, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1Cor. 12:26
In this message, I would like to discuss some of the theological aspects of ministering to the needy, being hospitable to strangers, and members being joined together, through contemplation of the epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Chapter 12:
- The Living Sacrifice:
St. Paul starts the chapter by saying, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom. 12:1, So after St. Paul discussed thoroughly – in his epistle to the Romans – the sacrifice of Christ Who offered Himself as sacrifice for our salvation, he asked us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, thereby offering our lives to God and to others. Not every sacrifice is acceptable, thus we need to offer a living holy sacrifice acceptable to God.
Ministering to the needy is a ministry of giving and sacrifice for the sake of others. The one who can offer himself as a living holy acceptable sacrifice before God can offer himself as a sacrifice for the sake of others. St. Paul the apostle wrote to the Corinthians about the generous giving of the people of Macedonia and said, “that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” 2 Cor. 2-5
Despite the hardship that the Macedonians were suffering, they gave generously of themselves and with much insistence. Why? Because “they first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us by the will of God.” 2 Cor. 8:5, for those who offer themselves to God can offer their lives to others. They give generously and from their livelihood as the widow with the two mites did, and Christ the Lord praised her offering because she gave from her livelihood.
- Renewing of the Mind:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom. 12:2 Ministry to the needy does not depend on the richness of those who serve, but the enlightenment of their minds by knowing Christ. The enlightened mind knows that the true treasure is the heavenly treasure and that life on earth is a temporary one. In the parable of the rich man whose ground yielded plentifully, he thought to pull down his barns and build greater, “and I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry.’” Lu. 12:19 And what did God tell him? “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ Lu. 12:20 God called him a fool (or darkened mind) because he did not think wisely and with an enlightened mind. The same will be for those who treasure up for themselves and are not rich in God.
- Ministering to the needy requires humility:
Finally, St. Paul offered us the third principle saying, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Rom.12:3 “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble, do not be wise in your own opinion.” Rom. 12:16 St. Paul the apostle discussed several spiritual gifts saying, “But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” 1Cor. 12:31 The more excellent way that he wrote about in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 is the way of affectionate love.
Christ our Lord washed feet as an example of the humble ministry. Ministering to the needy requires an affectionate, humble love. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” 1 Cor. 13:4
Let us offer ourselves as a living holy sacrifice acceptable before God and pray that God grants us an enlightened mind and humble heart to be able to partake of the needs of the saints, to be hospitable to strangers, and to share with others their joys and sorrows.
May the Lord bless your offering to support Santa Verena Charity programs.