Sermon on July 6, 2008: Generosity

15 07 2008


Well, here we are now at week number six in our seven part series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  We have spoken about the change that the Holy Spirit creates when He comes and enters in.  We have spoken about how this change is seen in some changes in how we behave.  We are filled with agaph – the unconditional love of God.  We love as God loves us.  This agaph results in cara – the undiminished – the unbelievable joy.  This cara comes from eirhnh of God – the peace – the quietness of the soul that comes from knowing that all is well between God and me.  And this peace then results in makroqumia – the patience – the tolerance of others – the same tolerance – the same patience that God has shown us.  The Patience of God that is most seen in His crhstothV – His ability to see Himself as a servant to all of us – one who gave Himself so that we could have life and now calls upon us to serve others.  And now we are about to find out what this means to serve others – because His service to others is best seen – is best understood when we understand His agaqwsunh.


Now the meaning of this word is uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness.  Now wait a second is that what we talked about last Sunday.  I thought that last week we talked about crhstothV.  And didn’t we say that crhstothV meant kindness or generosity.  So what’s the difference between crhstothV and agaqwsunh?  Well, I am glad that you asked.  Because you see I asked myself the same question – what is the difference between crhstothV and agaqwsunh?  Don’t they both mean kindness?      So once again I went to my book shelf and I pulled out one of my commentaries to try and solve this mystery, and this is what I found?


agaqwsunh is most generally defined as goodness but goodness in the sense of what is good and beneficial to others.  This word actually comes from Greek warfare when after a war was completed – after an enemy had been beaten, defeated, and humbled – the victor was required to show agaqwsunh.  This might require one to rebuild the walls of the city – to supply the defeated with whatever they might need.  This is the word that Matthew uses in his Gospel when Matthew refers to the casting out of the money-changers and Jesus condemnation of the Pharisees as a demonstration of goodness and kindness – doing what is in the best interest of another.



          So what does all of that mean?  It means – to put it very simply – to give to people what they need – not necessarily what they want – what they need.


I remember when I was much younger.  It was winter time.  I had started a fire in the fireplace.  I had fallen asleep.  When I woke up I saw my three year old son crawling towards the fire place.  He had seen the fire in the fire place.  He was intrigued with the fire in the fireplace.  He was intrigued with the burning embers which were bright red and so pretty.  He didn’t understand that if he touched them that the pain would be excruciating.  He didn’t understand that if he touched them that I would be rushing him to the Emergency Room of the local hospital with third degree burns.  But what he wanted was to touch those embers – grab those embers for which he was reaching when I got to him.  What he wanted from me was help in getting to those pretty, red embers.  What he got was a hard slap on the hand.  I needed to save him from doing something that would hurt him.  It was what he needed.  But it certainly wasn’t what he wanted. 




Now what is also interesting about this word agaqwsunh, is that this is the same word that Matthew uses to describe the actions of Jesus towards the Money Changers in the Temple.  Now the Money Changers were the people who sat in the Temple Courtyard in Jerusalem.  Their job was to exchange the money that people had with them for the Temple Coins that were needed to pay the Temple Tithe.  Of course, when they did this they would make a profit and to be fair about it, a portion of that profit would go back to the Temple to help them with the Temple expenses.  It was kind of a win, win, win situation.  The people who were coming to the Temple would get the Temple Coins that they needed.  The Money Changers were able to make a good living.  The Temple made an additional profit to help defray the expenses of the Temple.  Everybody won.  Everybody but Jesus.  Jesus thought that this was terrible. 




The Temple was not meant as a place to make money.  It was to be a place dedicated to pray and worship of God.  Yeah, but if they didn’t do this who would take care of the Temple?  Who would take care of the people?  I don’t know – how about God!  So what does Jesus do?  He points this problem out to them by going in there – throwing the tables over, sending money flying in every direction – taking a whip and driving all of these business men out of the Temple.  He gave these people what they needed – not what they wanted.  And when the Pharisees – who were getting a cut of the action – came after Jesus, He turned on them and told them what He thought of them.  And how does Matthew describe the actions of Jesus – as agaqwsunh.  He did something good.  Some that was beneficial.  He gave these people what they needed.



And so now we are at the point in the sermon once again when I am suppose to answer the question – what does God want us to do.  He wants us to always be on the look out for what is good and beneficial for others.  He wants us to be a servant to all and to be ready, willing and able to give to people what they need.  What people want from us is for us to give them what they want.  Jesus says that to be a disciple is to ask ourselves what is good for this person?  What will lead them to Jesus?  What will put them on the road to salvation?  And then give them the good – the agaqwsunh.  That is what it means to be a disciple.






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