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MATTHEW 25:31-40 | The Judgment

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘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.’

Introduction:

How do we see our world today?

According to “Guardian Weekly” dated September 27, 2011, the full humanitarian impact of the world economic crisis became clearer as United Nations and global agencies warned of huge job losses, a rise in the number of people afflicted by chronic undernourishment, and the "extraordinary price" being paid by children and other vulnerable groups as mass austerity programmes constrict the developing world.

Based on their report:

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that the International Labour Organization said 20 million jobs were lost in the group of developing and developed nations since the 2008 financial crisis. They said at current rates it would be impossible to recover them in near term and there was a risk of the number doubling by next year.

A study by the UN children's fund, Unicef, said there would be "irreversible impacts" from wage cuts, tax increases, benefit reductions and cuts in subsidies that bore most heavily on the most vulnerable in low-income nations.

That between 2010 and 2012 a quarter of developing nations were engaged in what it called excessive belt-tightening, reducing spending to below the levels before the financial crisis began in 2007.

With these things going on, many people believers and non-believers alike will experience difficult times today and in the days to come. Many will seek help for their daily needs materially and financially.

We will see companies struggling to find “business as usual” difficult with many firms retrenching workers and are not able to pay their employee’s salaries.

We will see nations due to budget cuts unprepared to deal with natural disasters and unable to meet needs of people.

Recently, our country the Philippines was devastated by continuous natural calamities that brought deaths and massive losses in properties and agriculture due to heavy rains that brought flooding in many areas. Families are displaced and loss their source of income.

As a church, how do we deal with these issues of life with fellow believers and unbelievers? How does the church respond to this? In what way believers are able to help those who are in need?

The answer is BENEVOLENCE.

I. WHAT IS BENEVOLENCE?

The Bible dictionary defines Benevolence as the disposition to do good; good will; kindness; charitableness; the love of mankind accompanied with a desire to promote their happiness.

We are commanded to love the Lord and to love people.

Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

We refer “neighbor” to both fellow believers and unbelievers. The church is to love people and our love to them is not only express by sharing the Gospel but also attending to their needs. The church’s purpose to love people is expressed through “benevolence”.

1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Benevolence is a ministry of the church but also a responsibility of individual Christians. Each of us will be accountable for how we had responded in every opportunity to help those in need.

Our passage in Matthew 25:31-40 tells us of this. Though its context speaks of Jesus’ Second Coming and Judgment for all yet we cannot neglect the truth the kind of ministry we are called by the Lord to involve with until His coming.

It is true that our main ministry is to share the Gospel of Salvation but from this passage; Jesus is also teaching us that aside from salvation, we are also given opportunity to help the needy in their physical needs.

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

II. WHY BENEVOLENCE?

The Benevolence of God – This is one of the moral attributes of God which delights in the happiness of mankind. God has always made provision for the basic needs of His people.

Psalms 146:5-9 (NIV)

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them — the Lord, who remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”

Benevolence is Modeled in the Old Testament

Leviticus 19:9-10 (NIV)

"'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen.Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 14:28-29 (NIV)

“At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

The Example of Jesus

2 Corinthians 8:8-9 (NIV)

“I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

The Early Church Example

Acts 4:32-35 (NIV)

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

BENEVOLENCE FUND GUIDELINES

I. Preamble

The Word International Ministries – Sharjah (Church), in exercise of her spiritual and charitable purposes has established a Benevolence Fund to assist persons in financial need.

The fund is intended as a supplement to be used when the family or individual needing assistance has explored all other possibilities of help from family, friends, savings, or investments.

People in need matter to God. No individual in the community who is willing to receive help in Christ’s name should be without food, shelter and other basic needs. Furthermore, God’s people are commanded to care for each other.

“Bear one another’s burden and thus fulfill the law of Christ, and give to the people in need”. Galatians 6:2

“Whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17

As an integral part of the ministry of our church, the Benevolence Fund provides Financial Assistance to individuals or families who are in need (Matthew 25:31-46).

This assistance is intended to be a temporary help during a time of crisis. Assistance from this fund is intended to be a one-time gift. In unusual circumstances – such as survival issues, the Church may decide to help more than one time.

However, under no circumstance is a gift from the Benevolence Fund to be considered a loan.

No gift may be repaid, either in part or in full, in money or in labor. If the recipient desires to give to the church at a later time, this individual should be encouraged to give directly to the general fund of the church.

The Church Council (Council) shall be sensitive to confidential issues.

The Council is responsible for administering the Benevolence Fund within this guideline.

II. Levels of Support

There are three levels of support namely:

Basic (up to AED 500.00 per situation)

Intermediate (AED 501.00 to AED 1000.00)

Advanced (above AED.1000.00)

III. Funding

The Church will provide assistance as resources are available.

The resources of the fund my come from:

A. Seed Fund

It is an allocated amount from the Church general fund as approved by the Council.

B. Church Community Fundraising

It is an ongoing fundraising activity that gathers our community together for a cause and to encourage cooperation and strengthens community values.

Fundraising for specific project is subject to the approval of the Council only.

C. Donation

It is a voluntary gift coming from any individual or organization.

D. Pledge

It is a voluntary gift coming from any individual or organization and given at regular intervals.

IV. Need Assessment

The following should assist in determining need and eligibility for assistance:

A. Determining Need

1. Needs that will be considered for benevolent assistance may include the following:

Death of a *Member/Family Member.

An unavoidable unemployment situation.

Families that encounter legitimate financial difficulties brought by natural disaster.

Medical treatments and related expenses.

An accident that results in financial needs.

*Member – a Church member or a member is any person who has continually attended WIN Sharjah for at least one (1) month.

2. Needs NOT usually considered for benevolent assistance:

Discretionary expenses (e.g. loan)

Treatments not considered life threatening.

Business needs arising for any reason.

Insured losses.

Where an individual or those legally responsible for the individual are determined to have adequate resources, unless the individual has been rejected by those persons (e.g., because of faith).

Projected and future needs (e.g., education fund for an orphaned child).

3. Other demonstrated needs

When financial assistance is provided consideration should also be given to meeting the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and other needs of the party receiving assistance. This will be done in consultation with the pastoral staff and/or the Care team and other church leaders.

4. When a major need arises which is beyond the church’s capacity to help, other possible sources for assistance may be explored with the party in need (e.g., community and/or government programs, OWWA).

B) Eligibility

1. Needy individuals or families who are primarily members of the Church.

2. A person whose current status is financially in need. Support will not be restricted to the Church members.

C) Assessment

1. Any need must be assessed in consultation with the person himself and the person who can testify to the individual’s need and financial status as authentic.

2. The Council and those consulted must disclose conflicts of interest (e.g., where proposed assistance involves a family member) and excuse themselves from the related discussion and decision.

D. Schedule of Financial Assistance

As the Benevolence Fund is intended to assist persons in financial needs Church members are given the priority to avail of this fund. In the event of death of a Church member or his family member the schedule shown below will guide in the release of the fund.

V. Duration of Benevolent Assistance

The Church will provide assistance for a specific need that is not expected to involve a continuous long-term commitment.

VI. Procedure to Avail Benevolent Assistance

A. Need Notification

1. The individual or family in need may inform any Council member or

2. Through referral from a third party e.g. Ministry Head, Care Group Leader or Cell Group Leader.

B. Source of Request

The church representative taking the request will record information to collaborate the need.

C. Processing/Approving the Request

1. The consensus of the Council on the approval of the request maybe expressed through:

1.1 Email correspondence,

1.2 Telephonic conversation or

1.3 On a regular Council meeting or

1.4 On a Special meeting intended for the purpose.

2. The release of the fund shall be approved by the majority of the Council either through email or by hand votation only when the Council is in regular or special session.

3. Whenever the approval of the release of the fund on the case at hand is done through e-mail, the aforesaid approval will be recorded and filed as a resolution in the next Council meeting.

4. Whenever reasonably possible, benevolent assistance shall be paid directly to the recipient.

5. The administration of the fund, including all disbursements, is subject to the exclusive control anddiscretion of the Council.

 

Note: The Council may consider recommendations from any member, but the Council is not bound in any way to honor the recommendations.