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The Lord Jesus led His disciples to expect hospitality, even as Martha and Mary, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, ministered of their substance unto Himself." So, again, when the Lord sent out the 1 Luke viii. 3. seventy, He said: “Into whatsoever house ye shall
enter . . . in that same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give : for the labourer is worthy of his hire.” " ? Luke x. 1-7.
Accordingly, the Apostle Paul frequently accepted hospitality from his converts. For instance, we read that Lydia, “when she was baptized and her household, she besought us, saying If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there; ” which, evidently, Paul and Silas did, since, after their imprisonment (during which the Philippian jailor was converted, and set bread before them) the two evangelists went out of the prison and entered into the house of Lydia.” So, again, at Puteoli, Paul and his companion found brethren, and were entreated to tarry with them seven days.” 4 Acts xxviii. 14.
In keeping with these instances Paul urges Christians to the practice of hospitality and almsgiving ; and, in the same breath with such lofty precepts as “continuing stedfastly in prayer,” he adds, “communicating to the necessities of the saints, given to hospitality.” In fact, so full on it “ is he of this subject that, when writing to the Corinthian Christians, he breaks off in the middle of a sentence to say, “Ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and
5 1 Tim. v. 17.
6 Gal. vi. 6.
that they have set themselves to minister unto the saints.” "
Also to these same believers in Corinth he makes known the grace of God given in the churches of Macedonia :
“How that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For according to their power I bear witness, yea, and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace and the fellowship in the ministering to the saints,” after which the apostle adds, “See that ye abound in this grace also.””
To the Christians in Ephesus he gives the following highly practical exhortation: “Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour; ” and to this Christian end, not merely that he may support himself, but “that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.” ”
Also to Timothy, Paul says: “Charge them that are rich . . . [not to] have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches; but . . . that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, and willing to communicate.” "
If next we proceed to ask for the classes of persons on whose behalf Christian giving is thus called for, we find the apostle directing, concerning ministers: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in the word and in teaching.”.” And again : “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” "
There are also the claims of the poor generally, amongst whom the Christian poor are to have the first place : “Do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” " 1 Gal. vi. Io. Also widows are mentioned ; and that, in connection with the first information we have concerning the distribution of church bounty;” whilst, in general Acts vi. 1. terms, the apostle more than once mentions, as a suitable object for alms, the supplying of the necessities of the saints.” oil. To these may be added the call for hospitality to * strangers; “helping poor relations;” and assistance #:#;" to foreign missionaries, “because for His name's " ' " " ** sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.”” 63 John 7. Just as we noticed, however, from the teaching of the Lord Jesus, that true Christian almsgiving was something more than mere giving of money, so we observe several like precepts on this subject from the apostle's pen; as, for instance, when he tells the Corinthians’ that though he bestowed all his 7 Cor. xiii. 3. goods to feed the poor, and had not love, it would profit him nothing. Also he enjoins upon the Romans: “He that giveth, let him do it with singleness [or liberality]”;” and Paul treats on 8 Rom. ii. 8. the footing of an ordinance of God, the payment even of Imperial taxes, saying, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers . . . Render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.”” 9 Rom. xiii. 1-7. But it is in writing to the Christians of rich,
12 Cor. ix. 1-5.
22 Cor. ix. 6, 7.
82 Cor. ix. 12.
A 1 Tim. v. 16.
mercantile Corinth that the apostle enlarges most concerning this duty of ministering to the saints. He praises their readiness to give, telling them he gloried thereof to the Christians of Macedonia, and that their zeal had stirred up many. The Corinthians' subscriptions, however, though promised, do not appear to have been so promptly paid ; and hence, some of the brethren were sent on in advance, to make up their afore-promised bounty, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty and not of compulsion. ' After this their spiritual father continues: “He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly ; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” This he supports by a Scriptural quotation, and then proceeds to state how “the ministration of this service, not only filled up the measure of the wants of the saints, but abounded also through many thanksgivings unto God.” ” Such, then, were the general principles concerning monetary obligations as taught by the apostle Paul ; but we may fail to appreciate them adequately unless we remember the force of his own example, for he did not preach what he did not practice, nor lay upon others a yoke which he himself would not carry. He enjoined, indeed, that if any believing man or woman had widowed daughters, they should be relieved, rather than the Church be burdened ; * but
with what perfect propriety could Paul say this,
“Did I commit a sin in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I preached to you the gospel of God for nought? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, that I might minister unto you: and when I was present with you, and was in want, I was not a burden on any man.”” 12 Cor. xi. 7-9.
And the same true servant of God could say to the elders of Ephesus, “I coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.”” 2 Acts xx. 34.
Can we, then, imagine, for a moment, that Paul the apostle was, as a Christian man, less zealous in the observance of his obligations in money matters, than was Saul the Pharisee in obedience to the law P Tithe-paying, indeed, was a principal factor of his former righteousness, which was under the law. But what things, then, were gain to