“And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful” (Tit. 3:14)

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“…that they may not be unfruitful…” What does it mean to be without fruit? And what does it mean to make good fruit? John the Baptist teaches about the good fruit – the people, the tax collectors and the military men to their question what they should do: “So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” (Luke 3:10-14).

These are good works according to the word of God. What we do to our believing brethren – we do it to the Lord. “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 15:40). The Lord promises rewards to those who do so: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matt. 25:34-36). These are basic things in human relations in general and in the body of Messiah in particular and this is what the Lord requires of us, the believers, today. 

Good deeds are those that are done out of a desire to help the needy in a time of scarcity – economic, mental, spiritual, physical (our time). That is to say – treat a person generously (first to brothers in faith) when their need arises, even if it conflicts with our time, with our comforts and with our plans. Those who do so bear fruit for the Lord. Because what we do to one of these little ones – to the Lord we do it…

Sometimes, a person in need will ask for help from us in times that are most uncomfortable for us, but just then… we are in the test of the Lord… If we reject weak brothers who are in need, and cause them to fail, or leave the faith, or turn away from believers, so the word of God says: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matt. 18:6-7).                             It is true that this is not a justifiable reason on the part of the offended and rejected brother, to leave the faith and the Lord, or to turn away from the believers, but he himself will give the account before the Lord on the Day of Judgment.

 

The Word of God further speaks of respectful treatment of the poor:  “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man… If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (Jas. 2:1-9).

The word of the Lord proves us, if we have not noticed the distress of our brethren: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be heard” (Prob. 21:13). And on the other hand – “He who follows righteousness and mercy Finds life, righteousness, and honor(Prob. 21:21).

A wise person is one who seeks those who need help, in order to support,  to give and to help and thus implement the commandments of the Lord. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

We all need the help of the Lord, especially those of us who help, give, support and strengthen others.  We ourselves must be filled with: His love, wisdom and power … maybe one day we too will be among the needy… “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). 

Yeshua gave a lesson to a man who thought he was “righteous”: “Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). And Yeshua answered him: “Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matt. 19:21). Jesus knew his heart and therefore touched his sensitive point – his property. And on the other hand, we learn from this verse how much Jesus cares for the poor and the needy.

James in his epistle teaches us about deeds that come out of faith and gives an example of faith that is expressed in deeds of help to a needy person. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas. 2:14-17). Good deeds are those that are done out of sacrifice… Yes, ‘giving’ sometimes involves sacrificing things that are precious to us, such as: giving from our resources, or from our mental power, or from our time. Here comes the faith which is expressed in giving, and knowing that we will never be lacking, because the Lord will always make up for what we lack.

The Word of God guides us to help, not only the brothers, but even our enemies: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you” (Prob. 25:21-22). According to the next verse we see that when we give, the Lord will give us, so that we will continue to give. “Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days” (Ecc. 11:1).

And finally the word of God encourages us: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:7-8). Amen!