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REPENTANCE


 

 

 

TRUE ALMSGIVING (Phil. 4-11)

"Always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request also with joy."  Paul prayed with joy for the Philippians because they were known for their excellent almsgiving.  

". . .for your fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel from the first day even until now. . ."  The Philippians have not concentrated in preaching in their cities alone; but helped Paul everywhere he went.  They helped Paul in the spread of the Gospel from the first time they heard it until "now".  And their help for Paul came when ". . .all Asia turned away from me. . .Demas betrayed me. . .At my first defense no one took my part."  The Philippians shared, constantly sending men to Paul, helping him and leaving out nothing that he needed.  And they did not do this once or twice; but always, in every way assisting Paul in the work of God.  

Paul's fellowship with the Philippians was in the furtherance of the Gospel.  For he who preachest and he who waiteth on the preacher shares the same crown; just as the crown is shared by the athlete with the trainer, the attendant and all who prepared the athlete.  Also, in war, not only the generals but the entire army partake of the glory.  But the greatest crowns go to the saints and those who wait on saints. . .for their crown is eternal life.  

Suppose someone gives up great possessions for God, continually devotes himself to God, practices great virtues and observes great asceticism, you can do this too.  But if you are less zealous and less generous, how can you acquire the same glorious crown?  Help him in the work of God.  

If you admire those living in the desert, practicing the angelic life, and are unable to imitate them, you can still share with them their reward in another way by waiting on them and aiding them in their quest for holiness.  

This is God's loving kindness -- to give the  less zealous and those who fear the hard, rugged and strict way of life to be in rank with others.  Share your worldly things with the saints and they will share their eternal crown with you.  God is the example;  He gives us heaven for the little or worthless things we give, like a cup of cold water.  And so the saints, God's servants, will also give great spiritual blessings in exchange for little material things.  

If you cannot fast or be a hermit or sleep on the ground or pray all night, you can still gain the same reward by merely ministering to them and lightening the pains of these works.  They stand, fight and take the blows.  You wait on them after the combat and wipe off their sweat  and refresh them.  He who ministers to the saints with such readiness shall be partakers of their rewards.  

"Being confident of these very things, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ."  A constant reminder to humility in that whether you are a hero or an aide, your good work is begun by Christ. . .not by us.  Your good works are primarily God's.  Our role is to draw God's grace to us.  Christian good works cannot be a work of man.  It needs a divine impulse.  

". . .may your love abound yet more and more. . ." for there is no satiety in God.  When one loves, he gives himself no point when to stop.  Paul desires that love is an act of owing:  "Owe no one anything save to love one another."  The measure of Christian love is that it stops nowhere.  It must abound more and more ". . .in knowledge and discernment."  You must know why you are loving; for those who do not know why they are loving, weak friendships are established.  Also, your love must have discernment, i.e. you should not love all the same way.  To do so is want of feeling and shows the absence of love.  

". . .that you may choose the things that are excellent. . ."  i.e. the things that are profitable to the soul.  If your love has no knowledge and discernment, eventually, in the name of love, you will accept spurious or erroneous doctrines.  

"Being filled with the fruits of righteousness. . .holding together with true doctrine and an upright life. . . ."  There is a kind of righteousness not of Christ; it is merely of man.  And man's righteousness indirectly injures you by hindering your perception of things profitable.  

The Philippians were perfect in their Christian almsgiving; their almsgiving have the three elements that make up true Christian almsgiving:  Firstly, they were always ready to help with all that they had.  Secondly, when they gave, they believed that they were instead receiving.  St. J. Chrysostom states: "You must not give unless you are convinced that you are receiving rather than giving and gaining a thousand fold for the little that you give."  And, thirdly, they must be grateful to him that receives.  If one of these elements is absent, St. J. Chrysostom suggests: "Let him not give for, to him, his almsgiving is a loss."

St. John Chrysostom, "On Phil.

 

 

 

 

 

  (01-30-05)

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