“Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.”
During this season of Lent many of us have made a commitment to give up something meaningful as a sign of our repentance. This is a good plan, and it helps us to remember what sacrifice actually involves. I have also been impressed with those folks who decide to take something special on rather than giving something up. That also requires commitment and discipline. In either case, taking the initiative to get closer to God always is a good plan.
There are many examples of the sharing of bread type. What I want to emphasize for today is that this is not a “quid pro quo” situation. You don’t earn a special blessing when you share you are blessed by the sharing itself. This is not, or should not be, a case of you do xxx and you will receive xxx. Don’t you get a good feeling when you’ve done something you were not forced to do? Instead, the blessing is the same as the act of generosity. The "payback," if that's the right word, for sharing bread with the poor is ... sharing bread with the poor. Such giving is its own reward. And, in a more general sense, the point of this proverb is that serving God has no quid pro quo; serving God is its own reward.
Jesus implied the same thing with his statement which we call the Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31). We might hear that as "Do good things for others so that they will do good things for you," but that isn't what he said. Rather, he called for a standard of behavior that is its own reward: "Do to others as you would have them do to you -- whether (or not) they actually treat you that way." Sounds like that could be a grim description of discipleship, but it's not. It's not simply "Do your Christian duty to others even if you never receive any appreciation from the recipients."
Neither is our Proverbs text talking about merely the good feeling you get by doing a good deed. Rather, doing good for others is a way of loving God. What you do for Lent does not last for 40 days, it continues as a new way of looking at that relationship. Isn’t it encouraging to know that you are blessed by doing what you do because it’s the right thing to do, and not because you’re trying to get something. You are blessed in the doing. Thanks be to God.
Hymn 84 “Thank you, Lord”
Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.
I just want to thank you, Lord
Lord God, you provide so many ways for us to know you, feel your presence, and learn to respond. Help us to show our love for you in the way we relate to our brothers and sisters. Amen.
Pastor David Brosnan