Monday, 27 December 2021
Title: Giving out of the Box
By: Ong Hwee Soo.
‘…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
A common expression we often hear is ‘thinking out of the box’ which refers to thinking unconventionally. In my Devotional, a fortnight ago, entitled “Paradoxical Principles”, I mentioned that many of Jesus’ sayings are counter-intuitive and counter-common sense, to emphasize the difference between worldly values and kingdom priorities. Yesterday was ‘Boxing Day’, hence the reason for my title today.
In our text today, Apostle Paul was speaking to the Ephesian church when he quoted Jesus by saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Whereas conventional worldview has it that getting more is better, the Bible presents a polar opposite worldview. Jesus teaches that more joy is to be found in God when we give rather than when we receive.
(By the way, this saying of Jesus is not recorded in the Gospels but was most likely passed onto to Paul by eye-witnesses who heard Jesus teach. We know from John 21:25 that Jesus did and said many things that were not recorded in the Bible.)
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We have more conveniences, but less time. We have learned how to make a living, but not a life.” (Excerpt from quotation by Bob Moorehead)
This Christmas is a good time to reflect on our priorities and begin to live out kingdom values.
Ronald Sider in his book, ‘Rich Christian in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity’, poignantly points out “What an ironic tragedy that an affluent, ‘Christian’ minority in the world continues to hoard its wealth while hundreds of millions of people hover on the edge of starvation!” Sider goes on to admonish in his book, “God’s Word teaches a very hard, disturbing truth. Those who neglect the poor and the oppressed are really not God’s people at all, no matter how frequently they practice their religious rituals nor how orthodox are their creeds and confessions.”
‘Boxing Day’ originated during the reign of English monarch, Queen Victoria in the 1800s, which was a day-off for the servants when they received a special Christmas box from their masters. The tradition evolved to a charity drive whereby a box to collect money for the poor was placed in churches on Christmas Day which was opened the next day and the contents distributed to the poor.
Praise the Lord, PBC has been able to launch the Covid Aid Fund to help the needy through the Neighbourhood Aid, the Food Aid, the e-Learning Device Aid and the Relief Aid, since past July. From contacts we made through these initiatives, we followed through with our 1000 Smiles Christmas Project whereby we gave Christmas Gift Packs to a thousand kids. Hopefully and prayerfully, we will ride on this momentum and do more for the poor in our community in the coming year.
Let’s reflect on the biblical injunction about taking care of the poor in Deut. 15:7-11 which ends with, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”
Let’s not be like the rich poor in the parable Jesus told (Luke 12: 13-21) who “is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Remember the words of the Psalmist (Ps. 62:10), “if riches increase, set not your heart on them.”
When God blesses us financially, in what ways can raise our Standard of Giving, rather than merely our Standard of Living?
Dear God, help us to Live the Life of generosity, giving out of the box of charity. Amen.
我们经常听到的一个表述是 “跳出框框思考”，指的是非常规思维。两周前，我在题为 “矛盾的原则” 的灵修中提到，耶稣的许多话是违反直觉和常识的，以强调世俗价值观和国度优先事项之间的差异。昨天是 “节礼日”，这就是我今天标题的原因。
在我们今天的经文中，使徒保罗在对以弗所教会讲话时引用了耶稣的话说： “施比受更为有福。” 传统的世界观认为得到越多越好，但圣经却提出了一个截然相反的观点。耶稣教导说，我们在施与的时候比我们在接受的时候，会从上帝那里得到更多的喜乐。
（顺便说一句，耶稣的这句话没有7中，但很可能是由听过耶稣教导的目击者传给保罗的。我们从约翰福音 21 章 25 节得知，耶稣所作和所说的许多事情都没有记载在圣经中。）
“我们这个时代的矛盾是，我们有更高的建筑，但更暴躁的脾气；更宽的高速公路，但更狭隘的观点；我们花得更多，但拥有得却更少；买得更多，享受得更少；我们倍增了我们的财产，但降低了我们的价值；我们有更多的便利，但时间却更少。我们学会了如何谋生，但不懂得生活。” （摘自Bob Moorehead鲍勃·摩尔黑德的语录）
罗纳德·西德 (Ronald Sider) 在他的著作《饥饿时代的富有基督徒：从富裕到慷慨》中痛心指出：“世界上少数富裕的 ‘基督徒’ 群体继续囤积财富，而数亿的人徘徊在饥饿的边缘！” 西德在他的书中继续告诫说：“上帝的话语教导了一个非常严厉、令人不安的真理。那些忽视穷人和被压迫者的人根本不是上帝的子民，无论他们的宗教仪式多么频繁，他们的信条和告解多么正统。”
“节礼日” 起源于 19世纪的英国维多利亚女王统治时期，当仆人从主人那里收到一个特别的圣诞礼盒时，那就是一个休息日。这一传统演变为一项慈善活动，圣诞节当天在教堂里放置一个为穷人募款的盒子，第二天打开，然后分发给穷人。
感谢主，自去年 7 月以来，班底浸信教会(PBC)启动了冠状病毒病援助基金(Covid Aid Fund)，通过邻里援助、食品援助、电子学习设备援助和救济援助来帮助有需要的人。从我们通过这些举措建立的联系中，我们继续执行我们的 “1000个微笑圣诞节项目”，我们向一千个孩子赠送了圣诞礼物包。我们希望并祷告，在来年能藉此动力，为社区中的穷人做更多的事情。