“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” – Proverbs 3:27
Some of the hardest teachings in the Bible for me are those that abruptly confront my selfish flesh. Love your enemies. Count it as joy when you encounter trials. Forgive those who sin against you 77 x 7 times. God really knows how to meet me in that divine space between what He calls me to do and what I actually do. This is one of those teachings: do not withhold good when it is in your power to act.
For believers, there will always be the temptation to withhold good. Although our passage today speaks of the withholding of debts owed, there are many other good gifts that God expects us to give. Believers are called to surrender our lives to God. We reflect Jesus when we are generous with our money, with our time, with our spiritual gifts, with our forgiveness, and with our love, grace, and mercy.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” – James 1:17
Believers are the hands and feet of God. Until Jesus returns for His people, we are the vessels through which God supplies these good gifts. God calls us to die to self – to give up our dreams, our desires, and our plans for His.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Little children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
Why is it so difficult to give sacrificially? Giving involves risk, so we often find ourselves seeking guaranteed return on our investment. What if the person hasn’t earned it? What if they don’t deserve it? What if they are ungrateful? What if they don’t pay me back? How will the loss affect me? There is always an inherent risk in giving, but we have to trust God with our investment. When we give sacrificially, we surrender our rights to those answers.
Giving God’s good and perfect gifts means we deny ourselves and give people the love, goodness, and mercy of Jesus.
Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to judge who is worthy of our love and generosity.
Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to reject and ignore those who offend us.
Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to demand the last word or to retaliate with anger.
Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to refuse our forgiveness.
Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to withhold good.
When we withhold good from people, we withhold God from them.
Giving people the goodness of Jesus can feel uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes painful. However, believers must always look to the example of Jesus who continued to pour out His love, mercy, and forgiveness to the undeserving even to the very end. God calls us to put Him first by loving people without expectations.
When we put God first – when we put God’s people first – He promises to bless our lives and supply abundance beyond our comprehension. Our goodness towards others will not go unnoticed. We cannot out-give God!
When faced with the opportunity to do good for someone, we must ask the question, “Would I hesitate to give extravagantly to God?” Our giving, ultimately, is not to the one in need, but to Christ Himself. How much is God worth to me and to you?
What expectations are you placing on those whom you are called to bless? What goodness are you withholding because the cost is too great? In what circumstance do you need God’s help to loosen your grip on self-preservation? How can we pray for you as you begin “giving Jesus” to all you encounter?
Peace and grace to you,
Terria serves on the LGG encourager and social media teams. She lives in Virginia with her husband. She is a proud mother of two beautiful girls in college. Her passionate goal is to ignite and empower a generation of millennial women to grab hold of God’s truth and cling to it. She can be tracked down hard at work in busy hospitals listening to patients’ stories, while sharing the lessons and love that God has poured out in her life. Despite the sometimes chaotic circumstances of Terria’s life, God always shows Himself strong and loving.