Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Great Lent Week 3, Paralytic, Charity
Volume 6 No. 332 February 19, 2016
III. Great Lent - Week 3
Featured Articles on Charity

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc.

If you only have a few minutes to spend a day, you can read short reflective articles and meditations. If you have more time, there are bible readings, and others to enrich your day.

Read the articles about how to practice lent. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Meditations and Reflections For
Week 3 of Great Lent

After reading and reflecting on the Great Lent, then read the specified readings and reflections for the day specified. We will guide you week by week.

Week 3 of Great Lent

10 Reasons Why It Is More Blessed to Give than to Receive

by Dr. David Murray

The most unbelieved beatitude in the Bible is: "It is more blessed to give than receive" (Acts 20:35). The giver happier than the getter? Surely some mistake? That goes against all our intuitions and instincts. So let me help you to believe it and act upon it by giving you ten reasons why it is more blessed to give than to receive.

1. Giving obeys God's command

The Old Testament has way more commands about financial giving - who, when, and how much - than the New Testament. Maybe the New Testament writers just assumed that as God had given far more to us in the New Testament - giving Himself to death - that our giving should follow fairly logically and easily. But, just in case we might miss the link, there are clear New Testament commands also (e.g. 1 Cor. 16:2). As all of God's commands are given to enhance our lives, obeying this command will increase our happiness.

2. Giving submits to God's Lordship

Every act of obedience recognizes that there is a higher authority in our lives, that there is a Lord over us who is entitled to honor and respect. Due to our temperament, personality, or circumstances, we may find some commands relatively easy to obey. Our submission is really tested in the areas where our own nature and situation make obedience more difficult. For most of us, money is one of those areas. Our wallet is often the last citadel to fall to God's rule, and even when it does fall, it gets rebuilt and re-secured again all too quickly. If only we could remember that Divine Lordship is not a threat; rather it's the place of greatest safety.

3. Giving exhibits God's heart

God is THE giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). As His image-bearers we are called to copy His giving, to be mini-pictures of His infinitely large heart. The larger our hearts (and the wider our hands), the larger the picture we paint of God's character. What do people think of God when they think of the way you use your money?

4. Giving illustrates God's salvation

At the heart of the Gospel is sacrificial self-giving (Jn 3:16). That's why when the Apostle Paul wanted to encourage the Corinthians to give more, he pointed them to the person and work of Christ. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). Yes, you abound in faith, love, etc., but "see that you abound in this grace also." When we give sacrificially, painfully, for the benefit of others, we are faintly and on a small-scale preaching the Gospel message.

5. Giving trusts God's provision

The biggest deterrent to giving is fear, the fear that if I give away too much I won't have enough for this or that. When we give sacrificially, above and beyond what is comfortable and easy, we are expressing our faith and trust in God to provide for us and our family. This is not an argument for folly, but for faith. Many Christians have discovered the joy of casting their crumbs of bread upon the waters and multiple loaves returning after many days (Eccl. 11:1). It's such a joy to see God fulfill His promise of provision when we obey Him.

6. Giving widens God's smile

The Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 6:7). It delights Him to see His people gladly opening their hearts and hands to provide for the needs of His Church and indeed of all His creatures. Through Paul, God repeatedly commends and praises those who gave of their funds and of themselves to Gospel work (2 Cor. 8:1-5). There's nothing that makes a Christian happier than knowing that she's made God happy, and happy giving means a happy God.

7. Giving advances God's kingdom

Many of us have contributed to Apple in one way or another. We have helped to grow the company from a garage operation to the worldwide empire it is today. And I'm happy about that, as it's a company that has brought many blessings to the world. But think of what blessing results when we fund the mission of Christ's church. We are paying salaries of ministers and missionaries. We are funding resources for outreach, evangelism, and discipleship. But above all we are investing in the spiritual and eternal welfare of people from every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue. Our dollars are changing homes, relationships, countries, and even the eternal destiny of many souls.

8. Giving promotes God's sanctification

Giving not only promotes God's work through us, but also God's work in us, our sanctification. Giving money, especially when it pains us, requires much self-denial and self-crucifixion. However, as every act of giving weakens and even breaks our sinful and selfish nature, the more God's grace spreads in our hearts. Yes, money leaves our pockets, but sin also leaves our heart. And that's a great deal. Priceless actually.

9. Giving testifies to God's power

Although we are not to let our left hand know what our right hand does, it's pretty obvious that Christians give a lot to their churches and Christian charities. Even secular observers have noticed with amazement how generous Christians often are with their money. They may not say it but they surely must think it: "This must be the real deal for people to give away so much of their own money. They must really believe this stuff. The God they worship and serve must be incredibly powerful to make people so generous."

10. Giving praises God's character

Giving in a right spirit is an act of worship. It is rendering Him a tribute of praise. It is saying. "You gave me everything and here is a small expression of my gratitude and praise for all your good gifts. It's only a token, a sample of what I really feel, but you know the heart that lies behind it. As David sang: "What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me?" (Psalm 116:12).

Giving better that getting?

Do you now see how giving makes us more blessed than getting? We can get so much happiness when we see how God is glorified in our giving and when we see Him bless others through our giving.

About The Author:

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.


The Joy of Sacrificial Giving

by John MacArthur

"Saints . . . who are in Philippi" (Phil. 1:1).

As you give toward the needs of others, God will supply your needs.

Perhaps more than any other New Testament church, the Philippian church was characterized by generous, sacrificial giving. Their support for Paul extended throughout his missionary travels and was a source of great joy to him. In addition to money, they also sent Epaphroditus, a godly man who ministered to Paul during his imprisonment (Phil. 2:25-30; 4:18).

Paul was selective about accepting financial support from churches because he didn't want to be a burden or have his motives misunderstood. First Corinthians 9:6-14 tells us he had the right to receive support from those he ministered to, but he waived that right so the gospel would not be hindered in any way. In 2 Corinthians 11:9 he says, "When I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone . . . in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so."

Similarly he wrote to the Thessalonians, "We did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you" (2 Thess. 3:7-9).

In contrast, Paul's willingness to accept support from the Philippian church speaks of the special trust and affection they shared.

Apparently the Philippians' generosity was so great, it left them with needs of their own. Paul assured them that their sacrifices were well-pleasing to God and that He would supply all their needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:18- 19).

Like the Philippians, you should be characterized by generous, sacrificial support of those who minister God's Word to you. Faithful pastors and elders are worthy of such honor (1 Tim. 5:17- 18), and generous giving brings joy to you and to others.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for those who faithfully minister to you. Ask for wisdom in how you might best support the financial needs of your church.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, 2 Corinthians 9:6-14, and 1 Timothy 6:6-9.

What attitudes and principles are reflected in those passages? How might you incorporate them into your financial practices?

Source: From the book 'Drawing Near'

Give to The Poor And Needy

by Stuart Briscoe

"We would all like a reputation for generosity and we'd all like to buy it cheap." -Mignon McLaughlin

Many years ago, my dad spoke to a group of radical young missionaries led by George Verwer. The ragtag team was the seed group for Operation Mobilization – now one of the great mission organizations of the world.

George's challenge was simple: Sell everything you have. Use the money to buy literature. Live in the warehouse with the boxes of literature. Get the literature out to as many people as you can. A whole bunch of families took him up on the challenge. They filled a whole warehouse full of literature and then set up cots where they lived with their families. They were simply taking the words of Jesus to heart:

"Do not be afraid, little flock… Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in Heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."
– Luke 12:32-33

The day my dad spoke, he saw the team's kids wearing worn out shirts and pants with holes in the knees. It was the only set of clothes they owned. But no one was moaning about how poor they were. Their minds were focused on the five billion people in the world who had less than they did materially and spiritually.

At home that night, Dad talked to Mom. "Jill, I'm almost embarrassed with how much God's given us! Let's pass it along." So they took the majority of the clothes out of our closets, put them in a big box, and drove back that night to the other side of England to give them to George and his team.

Mission accomplished?

When my dad went back the next week to teach again, the kids were still in their old clothes with the holes in their knees. "Thank you so much for the clothes," George told my dad. "We sold them and bought a bunch of boxes of literature. That was so great!"

Today, George still has a way of taking the words of Jesus to heart. Will we?

Jesus, I don't want to be afraid of Your words. I need You to move in my heart. Show me how You want me to give to the poor today – show me something specific. Then give me the willingness to trust You and obey You. Amen.

Source: Experiencing LIFE Today

Poverty and Hunger: The Violence of Globalization

by Rev. Thomas John M.A., M.Div.

Choose Life (I King. 21: 1- 15)

The fundamental conflict in the Bible is not between theists and atheist, but between those who worship the living God and those who worship the un-gods or false gods. The greatest threat that Christianity faces today is not atheism, nor Islam or Hinduism or any other religion, but it is the worship of Mammon, the God of wealth or profit. It is nothing but what we today label as globalization or market fundamentalism- enthronement of market as the sole arbiter, determiner and regulator of our life. It is this new religion of Mammon that sows seeds of death in the world today. It has emerged out of a new “Washington Consensus”- a consensus between the IMF, the World Bank and the US treasury about the “right” policies for developing countries. Globalization has become a religion unto itself with the IMF, WB and WTO, the unholy trinity, becoming its missionaries or high priests.

I would like to take you through the story that we find in 1King. 21: 1-15 as a way of understanding the basic conflict of cultures that we find in the Bible and the world today. “Naboth -- had a vineyard –- beside the palace of King Ahab”, the King of Israel. And Ahab wished to have that land turned into a vegetable garden as it was near his residence. He promised Naboth, “I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” Was this not a fair deal, that too by a ruler, a king? Naboth did not think that way. He refused the offer of the King; “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” Definitely, for most of us, it would sound a very foolish response. That kind of sentiment has no value in such a highly mobile society where real estate is a thriving business. The smart and worldly-wise wife of Ahab, Jezebel came onto the scene. She met with the bureaucracy; she sent letters to the elders and the nobles- the ruling class; she also co-opted the religious fundamentalists. She painted the picture of Naboth as a communist. He was accused of cursing God and the King- an atheist and one who act against the nation- unpatriotic. The ruling class manipulated the legal-justice system and Naboth was executed and the land was given over to Ahab. I cannot find a better story to tell you of what is happening in the developing countries under the market regime. Names may change; the basic story remains the same.

The two main characters in the story are Naboth and Jezebel. They represent two cultures or worldviews. Naboth worships the living God of Yahweh while Jezebel worships the un-god of Baal- the god of fertility and wealth, the god of the market. Naboth refuses to submit to the culture and logic of the market and he paid the price for it.

Ahab wanted the vineyard to be turned into a vegetable garden. It is the luxury of the powerful and the rich that decide the economic priorities and developmental activities of the rest of the world. Their fantasies and luxuries have priority over the basic survival needs of people who own, live in and work on the land. Today, in India, it is simpler to get low-interest loans to buy a Mercedes Benz than to raise one for agricultural purposes or for education. As far as the Israelites were concerned, the cultivation of wine suited the soil and the ecosystem and it was labor intensive. It served to meet the basic livelihood needs of a large section of the people. Vine, vineyard and wine have indescribable spiritual meanings for Israelites. They represented their life and means of survival.

Today, in two-thirds of the world, small farmers are unable to make a livelihood out of their land. It is impossible to stay in business by competing with the powerful players in the global market- the agribusinesses. Small and Marginal farmers sell their land and migrate to big cities. The nature of agricultural activity also changes. The agribusiness companies use land to produce commercial crops that are unsuitable to the ecosystem, the land, and are often water intensive and labor saving. In the process the land becomes degraded. The farming operations of the agribusiness are geared to producing for a global market where the demands of the rich always get priority. Thus the food security of the people is compromised. Our rice fields are turned into shrimp farms, banana and Coco plantations, amusement parks and golf courses. In Mumbai, bowling alleys are coming up in large numbers in the lands once occupied by textile mills. While countless thousands of women queue up for water each morning in the slums of Mumbai, 24 Water parks, which use up 50 billion liters per day, operate for the entertainment of the rich. In Rajasthan, a desert region of India, there are plans to open more water parks and golf courses. A single golf course takes 1.8 to 2.3 million liters of water a day through out the season. Textile workers, hand loom weavers, agricultural workers and fish workers are all being displaced from their traditional occupations and means of livelihood due to competition from multinational companies. Thus, what we encounter today is a conflict of priorities- conflict between the luxury-needs of a minority and the survival needs of a majority.

Conflict between Two Worldviews

We find in this passage, the conflict between two worldviews: one that believes that everything can be valued or prized and can be bought or sold as per the market demands; that every thing can be turned into commodities. The second affirms that there are invaluable things in life and that not everything can be bought or sold. The deal that king Ahab strikes with Naboth would appear very reasonable and just to a modern mind. The deal is, “I will give you a better vineyard for it or if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money”. This is the same language that the government and vested interests use in talking to those who are being displaced from their habitation by big dams, mines, tourism and other big projects. In their worldview, everything is exchangeable with “money” or with better substitutes. A market culture turns everything into commodities. Knowledge and the imparting of knowledge through education were never considered in our societies as something that could be bought or sold. Knowledge was considered to be public property. It was to be given away and it was in that process alone that it would abound to the good of all. Today, in most of the developing countries, governments are privatizing education, making it difficult for the poor to get quality education. In the tourism industry, the beauty of nature, our cultural heritages, and the bodies of our women are all for sale. In this process, religion also becomes commercialized. Everything has a price and everything can be bought or sold.

But for Naboth, land is not merely a means of livelihood but is part of his covenant with God. Israelites used to be landless nomads and slaves. It was Yahweh who liberated them from slavery and gifted them with a land. It was a gift from God. They could enjoy its fruits and not possess it for themselves. “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants” (Lev 25: 23). Naboth holds on to this worldview. Land was given to his forefathers by God to enjoy its fruits, to preserve it and not to exploit it or sell it to make profit. In other words, land is sacred. Is this not what the Chief Seattle also has to say to us, “We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy - and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his fathers' graves, and his children’s birthright is forgotten.”

Neo-colonialism and the Violence of the Ruling Class

Jezebel, as wife of the king, comes to wield enormous power over the governing structures. She is an extra-constitutional authority and also, a follower of a foreign culture that worships Baal- the present day god of the market. It is she who evolves a plan of action and dictates the nobles and the elders, “Proclaim a fast, and seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him saying, ‘You have cursed God and the King.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” The elders and the nobles, the ruling class, submit without any reservation to the wishes of Jezebel. They did as she had directed. Jezebel, for us, represents the WB, the IMF and the WTO. No matter who gets elected to power, they become subservient to these powerful financial institutions. Bretton Woods have pushed several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America into debt trap. Media and technology are also powerful tools in their hands to implement their hegemonic designs. States subvert their legal-justice systems to suppress and finish of the Naboths of this world and the people’s movements that support them. Thus we find a coming together of the Bretton Wood Institutions, the bureaucracy and the ruling classes in developing nations in order to fulfill the designs of global capital. They thwart democracy and the basic human rights of the majority of the poor in the developing nations of the world. This drama is being enacted all over the world. We develop theories of “clash of civilization”, accuse countries of having weapons of mass destruction, label them as “axis of evil”, in the name of God, national security, democracy and human rights, we terrorize and conquer people and nations with scant regard for any of these and all for the economic interests of a few. To cut the story short, they stoned Naboth to death. How many Naboths were killed in Laos, Congo, Angola, South Africa, Nicaragua Peru and El Salvador? How many Naboths are being killed today?

The Unholy Nexus of Religion, the Ruling Class and the Global Capital

Jezebel uses religion and religious institutions and practices to do away with Naboth and carry out her nefarious designs. It is a matter of grave concern that the political establishment in the US has hijacked Christianity to further their economic designs and hegemonic agenda. We have somehow identified this Mammonic culture with Christianity. Conservative Christianity, with their emphasis on an ahistorical, otherworldly, and individualistic piety, has become agents of global capital and its market culture. Gospel Crusades, Charismatic meetings, and Electronic evangelisms, directed primarily to countries in Latin and Central America, Asia and Africa are unfortunately becoming mechanisms to further a consumerist, success oriented and Mammon worshipping culture. The gospel demands have been diluted and a kind of glamorous Christianity devoid of the cross has been promoted. Naboth was accused of acting against God and the King and given the punishment for the same- stoned to death. The charge against Jesus, our Lord, was not any different. In Luke 23: 2 we read, “We found him perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.” Jesus bore the cross in defense of life and in defiance against all that destroys the integrity of creation. He gives us the choice: either to chose life or death, God or Mammon. Do we want to side with the culture of Naboth, which is life affirming or the culture of Jezebel, which is death dealing? It is in this choice and associated political decisions that we become followers of Christ.


O God, who in Jesus Christ, has opened before us, a way to eternal life in all its abundance, help us to see through the camouflages and discover the death dealing forces among us and give us the courage that your Son had in confronting those forces and stand up for life and pay its price. Help us to be always aware of our higher calling in Jesus Christ that transcends our narrow loyalties of nationalism and patriotism. We pray for all Naboths of this world, who had paid with their lives to preserve those things that are invaluable in our culture, civilization and the eco-system and the rights of our brothers and sisters to live a full and dignified life. Help us finally meet to rejoice in your eternal Kingdom of peace, justice and joy. We ask these in the name of our your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © Rev Thomas John


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