John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the excessive governmental regulations which have grown like a malignant cancer in the last thirty years, observes that Satan favors the concept of tyrannical, centralized government. If God's laws of love were internalized, there would be little need for the kind of control exercised by governmental officials today. Ironically, it is through the appeal to 'charity,' a responsibility demanded to all of us, that government has taken over charitable functions. If Christians had taken care of their families in the first place, despotic governments and confiscatory taxes would have not metastasized to the dangerous, debilitating level they have now become.
Philosophers and ethicists, steeped in humanism, shoot wide of the truth in answering, 'Who is my neighbor?' Charles Whitaker explains that the Bible reveals the answer to this big moral question, as well as providing sensible guidelines on the finer details of Christian charity.
In an age when globalism is a reality, when immediate contact with far-flung peoples occurs every day, answering "Who is my neighbor?" is a vital necessity. En route to explaining Jesus' reply to the lawyer in Luke 10, Charles Whitaker exposes how today's celebrated thinkers answer this question.
Richard Ritenbaugh asserts that Christianity has both an inward aspect (building godly character or becoming sanctified) and an outward aspect (doing practical philanthropic good works.) Both aspects are vitally necessary, with righteous character serving as the well - spring or fountainhead for the second (outward) aspect. Godly good works, of necessity, should reflect a great deal of thought and concern, with considerable attention to the long-term consequences of the extended help. Soft-heartedness must not be accompanied by soft-headedness, but must take into account long-term solutions (the ultimate well-being of the recipient of the charity) involving thoughtfulness and common sense, carefully considering God's will in the matter. Good works are the fruit of righteousness, not an end in itself. We need to give according to our abilities, freely, generously, with a view of honoring God.
Most people understand the basic point of this well-known parable. The whole story describes working compassion as contrasted to selfishness. It also clarifies just who is our neighbor.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: It is beyond question that Christians should be compassionate. We are to give to the poor and aid the needy. We are to lend a helping hand to those who have stumbled and bear the burdens of the weak. It is sin to us if we know to do good and fail to do it. But how far does this go? ...
Kindness, the fifth fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, goes hand-in-hand with love. It is an active expression of love toward God and fellow man. As we come out of this calloused world, we must develop kindness through the power of God's Spirit.
The fifth fruit of the Spirit, kindness, reflects God's loving actions toward us. We in turn must learn to bestow kindness on others.
God's church faces a time of severe trial, a famine of the Word. What should Christians be doing during such a time? John Reid uses the example of the first-century church to provide an answer.
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