Friday, June 14, 2013

Clement, Salvation of the Rich - Love Jesus by loving others

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book on the Salvation of the Rich Man. If you are unfamiliar with Clement or his book, you may want to start with the introduction to this series.
"He then is first who loves Christ; and second, he who loves and cares for those who have believed on Him. For whatever is done to a disciple, the Lord accepts as done to Himself, and reckons the whole as His." (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 30)
We are called to first love God and secondly love Jesus, but how do we love one who is unseen and how can we bless and benefit one who has need of nothing? One Christmas, one of my children asked me, "If it is Jesus' birthday then why don't we give Him a present?" I answered them that the best way to give Jesus a present is to give one to someone in need. For when we give to the "least of these" we give to Him. Jesus Himself told us, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40) The best way to love Jesus is to love those who are His, even the least of them.
"Such He names children, and sons, and little children, and friends, and little ones here, in reference to their future greatness above. 'Despise not,' He says, 'one of these little ones; for their angels always behold the face of My Father in heaven.' And in another place, 'Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom of heaven.' " (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 31)
We are to love others, not based on their present station in life, but based on who they are in God's eyes and who they are to be in the life to come. Even a little child is destined to be great in God and in the Kingdom and is thus worth of being loved.

Clement goes on to observe that giving to the "least of these" has the power to work a righteous and saving act in our lives.
"And again, 'Make to you friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations;' showing that by nature all property which a man possesses in his own power is not his own. And from this unrighteousness it is permitted to work a righteous and saving thing, to refresh some one of those who have an everlasting habitation with the Father." (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 31)
There is power in giving when we give out of an expression of Loving Jesus. Such power should motivate us to be proactive in our giving, not waiting to be asked, but actively seeking those who are in need.
"See then, first, that He has not commanded you to be solicited or to wait to be importuned, but yourself to seek those who are to be benefited and are worthy disciples of the Saviour. Excellent, accordingly, also is the apostle’s saying, 'For the Lord loveth a cheerful giver;' who delights in giving, and spares not, sowing so that he may also thus reap, without murmuring, and disputing, and regret, and communicating, which is pure beneficence. But better than this is the saying spoken by the Lord in another place, 'Give to every one that asketh thee.' For truly such is God’s delight in giving. And this saying is above all divinity,—not to wait to be asked, but to inquire oneself who deserves to receive kindness." (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 31)
God wants us to have heart of a cheerful giver; one who gives with liberality and without regret; one for whom giving is a delight and a joy. But beyond this, God wants us to be an active giver; one who does not simply wait for someone to ask for help, but one who actively looks for those they can help with the wealth God has given them. Such a giver understands that their wealth is not their own, rather they are merely stewards of God's own wealth, and, as stewards of God, they actively looks for those in need whom they can help out of God's wealth that they steward. These are the givers God is seeking. Are you such a giver?

David Robison

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