I am astonished at the promptness with which you have turned away from the one who called you and have decided to follow a different version of the Good News. Not that there can be more than one Good News; it is merely that some troublemakers among you want to change the Good News of Christ; and let me warn you that if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one we have already preached to you, whether it be ourselves or an angel from heaven, he is to be condemned. I am only repeating what we told you before: if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one you have already heard, he is to be condemned. So now whom am I trying to please – man, or God? Would you say it is men’s approval I am looking for? If I still wanted that, I should not be what I am – a servant of Christ.
The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realise this, the Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’
But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’
‘Go, and do the same yourself.’
Easier said than done, isn’t it? To give when no one has asked you for anything, but just out of the goodness of your heart, with no expectation at all of any reward nor repayment. However, when you encounter Christ in person, that is what happens; you simply give. Of yourself, whatever you possess, and a lot more. And here’s the interesting bit — the more you give, the more you will receive.
In today’s dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all world, it is easy to understand why society is confronted with so many ills. I recently learnt about a niece living in another part of the world, who is going through clinical depression and her younger teenage sister, who is ‘becoming a handful’ as she battles drug and alcohol problems. And despite their parents trying their level best, the girls have both left the comforts of a loving home environment. I just wonder how they will cope out there on their own and whether a ‘good Samaritan’ will eventually take care of them when they fall.
When you’re out on the streets braving the elements or down on your luck with no one to turn to, there can be only one source of comfort – Jesus Christ. I experienced this every day as I walked the Camino. Over terrain that varied between dirt trails, rocky mountain passes, asphalt, cobbled city streets and muddy farm tracks, it was Christ that sustained me each step of the way towards Santiago. And while the encounters came in various forms, there was no mistaking His presence – sometimes by my side, at times just walking quietly behind me.
I have never experienced a period when my heart was as light and as carefree as those weeks on the road. And towards the end, I did feel the change in me. As I look back and reflect, there were so many situations that occurred where I would normally get angry, irritated or lose my patience. But I realise that I simply dismissed them with a laugh or shrug. And He did prompt me to give on many occasions. What I received in return was something intangible yet invaluable – an overwhelming love that could only come from God.
Brothers and sisters, when He asks of us to give, it may not necessarily be in a spectacular manner. It could just be a subtle prompting that comes from within your heart. And while it may require quietening your heart in order to discern it, you will know when it happens because it is rather impossible to ignore the call. So I encourage you to be sensitive to His promptings by learning how to quieten your heart once in a while. You may surprise yourself.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Father, we pray for the opportunity to be with ourselves more regularly so that we can be more attentive to your promptings. Help us to quieten our hearts each day and to discern your call clearly.
Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for being such a giving Father and for showering us with all your gifts each and every day.