And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 11:27-30)
Carrying For Others
The New Testament Christians did not have a lot of history to look back on for examples or admonition. What they did was fresh, new, and learning as they grew as children of God. On the Day of Pentecost, the first converts were devout Jews. The first disciples of Christ came from the people of Abraham. Gentiles were brought into the kingdom later and a melting pot of cross-racial, social-economic blending of cultures made up the infant church. Growing in their relationships, early Christian learned how to care for one another putting the prejudices of the past behind them. It was not easy. Many of the appeals of the early writers exhorted the Christian not to think of themselves more highly than they should but have the mind of Christ. This was a spirit of sacrifice for their fellow saint supplying the needs of suffering Christians.
The famine that happened in the days of Claudius Caesar highlighted the love brethren had for one another. It is easy to stay disconnected from the problems of those who live far away but this was not the case of early Christians. The disciples, each according to their need or ability, sent relief to their fellow brethren. Whether they knew who these people were is not likely. It did not matter. Their fellow Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ, were in need and that is all that mattered. Brotherly love comes from a heart that wants to help the ones in need. Some disciples could give more than others but the amount was not the lesson. The disciples of Antioch decided to do what they could with what they had to care for the needs of those who were in dire want.
Jesus taught the lesson of the man who helped his fellow man left for dead by robbers. Human nature is on display in this parable when you have the heart of the thieves who say, “What is thine is mine, we will take it.” There are a lot of people like that in the world. The only thing they want out of life is what they can take. And then there is the spirit of the priest and Levite who walk by the injured man with little concern. The priest completely ignores the man and the Levite comes over to see the condition of the man but does nothing. Their spirit is likened to those who say, “What is mine is mine and I will keep it.” This spirit is prevalent among many. There is no love to help others. They blame the man who should not have been on the road in the first place allowing himself to be robbed and so he must suffer the consequence. Finally, a man comes on the scene from a mongrel nation, despised by the Jew, hated because of their half-breed heritage of Jew and Gentile. A Samaritan sees the injured man dying on the side of the road and has compassion. He binds up the wounds, carries him to an inn where he will stay with him all night and leaves the next day paying for all expenses and promises to return to make certain the injured man is well cared for. He did all he could do according to his ability and he cared for his fellow man.
The spirit of a Christian is seeing the sacrifice of Jesus and all He gave for the redemption of man. God’s children are compassionate and caring for others. The early disciples gave of their means to their fellow saints. They did not have much to give but those in the famine had nothing. Being a child of God is an example of benevolent living and giving. The heart is filled with love for others and the hand is the ready agent of change for those who need relief. A great famine afflicted the whole world but the saints in Judea received the love of God through the benevolent hand of their brethren in Antioch. People caring for people. What a wonderful story of love.
Sympathy is your pain in my heart. (Anonymous)