Douglas B. Clawson
“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15–16). Have you ever watched the hands of small children as they play with each other? Perhaps one has a toy, and the other does not. If the child with the toy doesn’t want to share, he will hold on to the toy so hard that his little hand will turn white with the effort. But, sometimes, a child will want to share. She will reach out her little arm as far as it will go and offer the toy to the other child. And how does she hold the toy in the balance of her tiny reach? She holds it out with an open hand. It is beautiful.
That is how God is toward the desire of every living thing. We deserve nothing except curse and destruction. We treat almost every gift as if it is no gift at all but rather something owed to us. Yet, despite our attitude of ingratitude and entitlement, he gives us rain and sunshine. He gives us fields full of food. He gives us a home and family and friends. He does this for us and for every living thing on the face of the earth.
The context of the description of God’s generosity in Psalm 145 is found in verses 1, 11, 12, and 13. David describes his God and King as one who reigns over a universal kingdom that includes every work and creature of God. It is a kingdom that spans every generation. Unlike the kings of men to whom flowed the wealth of their subjects, this God and King supplies not just the needs but the desires of his creatures. He is the one who gives to them.
If this is true for every living thing, we who have Jesus have so much more —far more than we could ask or think. He gives us himself. We have Jesus; therefore, we have God. We have eternal life and salvation. We have an eternal inheritance in the heavens. We have fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers in the Lord. He has given us everything that we have, and he has made us what we are for our good and for his glory.
God is open handed. He is generous. He doesn’t keep things from us like a child with white knuckles. He doesn’t dangle the things we need above our heads or hold them behind his back. He is open handed. And, he says that our hands should be open, too.
In Deuteronomy 15:7 we read:
If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
Our God is generous, and he calls us, his people, to be generous toward our brothers who are in need. Meeting that need is one of the ways in which we glorify him.
Jesus glorified the Father by doing the Father’s will (John 17:4). When we obey our God and King in our own generosity toward those in need, we are being like Christ, and in that obedience, we are praising him, we are thanking him, and we are glorifying him.
Many of us, if not all, have at one time or another been the recipients of the generosity of others. Maybe someone stopped to help us with a flat tire. Maybe we were short of cash and someone in line behind us helped with their change. Maybe we have been helped with far greater needs than those. It may humble us to receive help, but, hopefully, we did not feel humiliated. Sometimes we need help, and we need to understand that it is Jesus who is being served when we serve. Listen to what he says in Matthew 25:40: “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Yes, when you did something to help a brother or sister, you were serving Jesus. And, when a brother or sister helped you, they were serving Jesus. Therefore, we should not feel humiliated. We should feel humbled to know that Jesus was being served through us.
We should also be humbled to know that through the sanctifying work of his Spirit, as Christ makes us more and more like himself, we will be made more generous.
We may not recognize the change in ourselves, like those whom Jesus describes in Matthew 25:37–40:
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
But, the change will take place. He is generous. In our service to him, he makes us generous, too.
And, you have been generous.
Through your generous giving to Worldwide Outreach and the annual Thank Offering, the Committee on Christian Education was able to publish the Trinity Psalter Hymnal.
Through your generous giving, the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension was able to support twenty-nine mission works (nine of which were new), two church-planting interns, and eight regional home missionaries.
Through your generous giving, the Committee on Foreign Missions was able to send three new missionaries to the field, which means that there are now four evangelists on one field in Asia at one time, and churches are being planted and strengthened in fourteen nations. Jesus is being ministered to by your generosity, as you have given to the spiritual and physical feeding and clothing and visiting of your brothers and sisters in North America and around the world through these ministries of Christ’s Word and Spirit.
As our church tries to reach the Thank Offering goal of $1,200,000, your generosity will continue to help others in the coming year. Your giving will support the work of the Committee on Christian Education by enabling it to help the church with additional interns, the Timothy Conference, and supplementing pastoral training through the Ministerial Training Institute of the OPC. Your continuing generosity will support the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension as it assists the church with two additional regional home missionaries, ten new church plants, and three new church-planting interns. And your generous giving will support the Committee on Foreign Missions as it sends a new missionary to Karamoja, Uganda, and helps to plant and strengthen more churches around the world.
Your brothers and sisters in Christ in other congregations and missions of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church are very thankful to God for the work he has done to make you generous in your help to them. And Jesus, who satisfies the desire of every living thing, will say of your generosity, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Therefore, give thanks to your King, who makes you more and more like himself, the generous giver of all good things.
The author is the associate general secretary of the Committee on Foreign Missions. New Horizons, November 2018.