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I believe whole-heartedly that the church exists for the sake of those people who live in the gutters of life. That is the church’s first function. The coming together and preaching and singing are not the key aspects of being a church.

Although the congregation in Corinth was still young, Paul gave them lots of practical advice on putting money aside for their brothers and sisters suffering hardship in Jerusalem: 1Regarding the relief offering for poor Christians that is being collected, you get the same instructions I gave the churches in Galatia. 2Every Sunday each of you make an offering and put it in safekeeping. Be as generous as you can. When I get there you’ll have it ready, and I won’t have to make a special appeal.

There will always be hardship around us. Sometimes you have no choice in the bad things that happen to you. People lose their jobs. An accident happens and before they know it they are in dire straits.

The platinum mine workers started a strike at the beginning of the year that lasted a record five months. The experts found that the money lost in those five months would never ever be regained. The mining towns are suffering. People’s financial matters fall apart. People lose their houses and cars and eventually a piece of their humanity.

But fortunately there are also people who care. There are farmers who donate truckloads of food. Organisations that start working and deliver food parcels to people’s homes. I heard of a small town in Mpumalanga where the inhabitants collected 30 tons of food for the people who had no income. The local school had a fund-raising. The head said:

“Keep it quiet. We don’t want this in the papers, because we teach our children that this is part of your tithe and that a school doesn’t boast in this manner.”

That is church. That is why we exist: To make a change in the lives of other human beings. And Paul said that we had to budget for it. Put something away every month so that you can be ready and prepared when need knocks on your door, so that you can give without hesitating.

This doesn’t mean we have to give money to everybody who knocks on the door. Many people abuse the kindness of others and will create any story to get some money – long stories that are far from the truth. Therefore, it’s better to help via an organisation or church where you know the funds will be spent wisely.

May we never lose the sense of responsibility towards other people in need. May we plan and put aside part of our income so that we can be prepared and in this way also be Jesus’ hands and feet.

Reflection

Do you plan to help others?

How much do you have to set aside?

Where can you make a difference?

Bible Reading

1 Corinthians 16:1-4

Prayer

Lord, you give us enough. Please help me to be generous towards others on your behalf. Amen