Thursday (July 12): “Freely have you received – freely give”
Scripture: Matthew 10:7-15
7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. 9 Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, salute it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
Meditation: Do you believe that the Gospel has power to change your life and the lives of others? Jesus gave his disciples a two-fold commission to speak in his name and to act with his power. The core of the Gospel message is quite simple: the kingdom (or reign) of God is imminent! What is the kingdom of God? It is that society of men and women who freely submit to God and who honor him as their Lord and King. In the Lord's prayer we pray for God to reign in our lives and in our world: May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Doing the works which Jesus did Jesus also commissioned his disciples to carry on the works which he did - bringing the healing power and mercy of God to the weary and oppressed. The Gospel has power to set people free from sin, sickness, fear, and oppression. The Lord Jesus will free us from anything that keeps us from loving him and our neighbor with joy and confidence.
Sharing generously what God has given to each one of us Jesus said to his disciples: Freely you have received, freely give. What they have received from Jesus they must now pass on to others without expecting a favor in return, whether it be in the form of a gift or payment. They must show by their attitude that their first interest is in serving God, not receiving material gain. They must serve without guile, full of charity and peace, and simplicity. They must give their full attention to the proclamation of God's kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things. They must travel light - only take what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them - in order to concentrate on the task of speaking the word of God. They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting special privileges or reward. "Poverty of spirit" frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God s provision. The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves.
Support the work of the Gospel with your resources Secondly, Jesus said: the worker deserves his sustenance. Here we see a double-truth: the worker of God must not be overly-concerned with material things, but the people of God must never fail in their duty to give the worker of God what he or she needs to sustain themselves in the Lord's service. Do you pray for the work of the Gospel and do you support it with your material and financial resources?
Jesus ends his instructions with a warning: If people reject God's invitation and refuse his word, then they bring judgment and condemnation on themselves. When God gives us his word there comes with it the great responsibility to respond. Indifference will not do. We are either for or against God in how we respond to his word. God gives us his word that we may have life - abundant life in him. He wills to work in and through each of us for his glory. God shares his word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly and simply to others. Do you witness the truth and joy of the Gospel by word and example to those around you?
Lord Jesus, may the joy and truth of the Gospel transform my life that I may witness it to those around me. Grant that I may spread your truth and your light wherever I go.
Psalm 80:1-3, 15-17
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth 2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh! Stir up your might, and come to save us! 3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 15 the stock which your right hand planted. 16 They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance! 17 But let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The gift of power to reign with the Lord, by Hilary of Poitiers (315-367 AD)
"All the power possessed by the Lord is bestowed upon the apostles! Those who were prefigured in the image and likeness of God in Adam have now received the perfect image and likeness of Christ. They have been given powers in no way different from those of the Lord. Those once earthbound now become heaven-centered. They will proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, that the image and likeness of God are now appropriated in the company of truth, so that all the holy ones who have been made heirs of heaven may reign with the Lord. Let them cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out devils. Whatever impairment Adam's body had incurred from being goaded on by Satan, let the apostles wipe away through their sharing in the Lord's power. And that they may fully obtain the likeness of God according to the prophecy in Genesis, they are ordered to give freely what they freely have received (Matthew 10:8). Thus a gift freely bestowed should be freely dispensed." (excerpt from commentary ON MATTHEW 10.4)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.