2 Samuel 17:27-29 -
Supplies for the king's army.
Mahanaim is memorable in the history of Jacob; derived, indeed, its name from the circumstance that there "the angels of God met him" ( Genesis 32:1 ) on his way back to the promised land, and just before his interview with Esau, about whose present disposition towards him he was doubtful. In our text also we read of veritable angels (messengers) of God, though human, coming to the same place to succour and encourage another of his servants when in circumstances of great difficulty. David had with him a large company of friends and subjects, who remained faithful while so many were faithless; but their very number was an embarrassment, and they arrived in the neighbourhood "hungry, and weary, and thirsty." Very welcome, therefore, were the supplies which these chieftains brought for their relief, and which the historian enumerates with so much evident pleasure. They thus cheered the heart of David, contributed very materially to his final victory over his rebellious son and subjects, and obtained for themselves a good name. In the Christian warfare against error and sin there is room and need for this kind of service. The progress of the spiritual cause depends no little on the material aids. As soldiers must eat and drink in order that they may fight, so Christian ministers and missionaries, however spiritual and holy and disinterested, cannot preach and teach unless they are fed and clothed, and their work facilitated by various appliances which are only to be obtained and maintained by money or money's worth. It is only in exceptional cases that competent labourers are able to support themselves by the Labour of their hands or from their private fortunes. Hence the absolute necessity that Christians should furnish material supplies, and the certainty that the progress of the Christian cause in the world will be greatly hindered if, through indifference or avarice, such supplies are scantily furnished. In our time the duty of furnishing them more abundantly needs to be pressed on the attention of the disciples of Christ with much urgency. The world is almost everywhere open to the missionary; devoted men and women offer themselves, ready to go anywhere to make Christ known; but in many instances they cannot be sent forth for want of the means of sending and sustaining them. That the ability of Christ's servants in this direction is being employed to the utmost is incredible in view of the lavish expenditure of many of them on worldly display and luxury. The disposition is wanting; and this in part because a conviction has not yet been awakened in their hearts of the necessity and worth of pecuniary supplies, and the imperative duty and high honour of furnishing them. Such a conviction may be promoted by due attention to the following considerations.
I. THE OBLIGATIONS OF ALL CHRISTIANS IN RESPECT TO THE PROMOTION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE WORLD ARE THE SAME . The character, the toils, the serf denying endurance of hardships and privations, of many missionaries and other ministers of the gospel, awaken admiration and applause. But, amongst those who applaud, the feeling is often wanting that they are themselves as really and truly bound to devoted service of Christ as the men whom they admire.
1 . Objects of the same Divine love, redeemed by the same precious blood, called by the same grace, partakers of the same privileges and hopes, they ought to cherish a like ardent love to Christ, and with a like zeal seek to fulfil the purposes for which he lived and died.
3 . They are equally bound to love their fellow men, and seek their good to the utmost of their power.
II. THE NECESSITY OF MATERIAL SUPPLIES AFFORDS TO ALL THE OPPORTUNITY OF BEING PARTNERS WITH THE NOBLEST WORKERS IN SUSTAINING AND EXTENDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD . The good women who ministered to our Lord of their substance ( Luke 8:2 , Luke 8:3 ) became thus partakers in his work. The Philippians who showed hospitality to St. Paul when amongst them ( Acts 16:15 ), or sent gifts to him afterwards ( Philippians 4:14-16 ), are recognized by him as having "fellowship" (partnership) with him, "in furtherance of the gospel" ( Philippians 1:5 , Philippians 1:7 , Revised Version). St. Joha describes those who were hospitable to evangelists as their "fellow helpers to the truth" ( 3 John 1:8 ). In like manner, all who subscribe of their money towards the support of Christian ministries and missions, have the honour of being fellow workers with those who give the ablest personal service. This was recognized by the lad who hastened to a missionary meeting, and being asked the reason of his eagerness, replied, "I have a share in the concern." Bible, missionary, and other societies have, by awakening such thoughts and feelings, done much to enlarge and elevate the minds of the myriads of their supporters in every part of Christendom.
III. GIVING EXERCISES THE SAME CHRISTIAN VIRTUES AS PERSONAL SERVICE . For right and sufficient contribution of substance, as for right preaching and teaching, are required:
1 . Faith and love.
2 . Conscientiousness.
3 . Self-denial.
Indeed, all Christian principles and affections are brought into play in the course of earnest service of either kind. Both are processes of education of the Christian soul, by which the lessons of Christ are more thoroughly learnt.
IV. IT IS EQUALLY ACCEPTABLE TO GOD . St. Paul calls the present he had received from the Philippians "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" ( Philippians 4:18 ; see also Hebrews 13:16 ). Right motives are, of course, presupposed; but, when these are present, both kinds of service are equally acceptable. "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward" ( Matthew 10:41 ).
V. IT SHALL OBTAIN A SIMILAR RECOMPENSE . In:
1 . The Consciousness of Divine approval .
2 . The pleasure of serving Christ .
3 . The joy of doing the highest and most enduring good to men .
4 . The rewards of the last day .
The expressed approval of Christ. Admission to "the joy of the Lord" ( Matthew 25:21 , Matthew 25:23 ). Participation with Christ and the saints in the joy of final and complete victory over the powers of evil. Every true hearted sharer in the work and conflict shall share in the gladness of the triumph, when not only the sower and the reaper ( John 4:36 ), but those who have furnished them with needful support, shall "rejoice together."
Finally, we must not think of workers and givers as two distinct classes of persons, having no part in each other's functions. All Christians can and ought to render personal service as well as contributions. There is need and room for all to labour as well as give. In maintaining Church life, in teaching the ignorant, in seeking and saving the lost, in comforting the sorrowful, etc; there is scope for the talents of all. No one can by his gifts purchase freedom from such services. We must give account of every talent committed to us.—G.W.
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