The basic premise of benevolence is that if I have a need, you help me out; and if you have a need, I help you out. However, this goes against the worldly belief that is entirely selfish. The world will tell you to get all you can and hold on tight!
Back in the days of Paul, the Corinthian Church was doing well. God was blessing them with wealth and they had no needs. Yet over in Jerusalem, they were having tough times. They needed help. So Paul is writing to the Corinthians to provide for the others in need.
We see in 2 Corinthians 8:15, “As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.’” This is a direct quote from Exodus 16:18. In Exodus, Moses was writing about the manna that God had miraculously provided for the Israelites to eat each day. The Israelites were told to go out and gather the manna needed for the day. Not everyone could go to gather, maybe they were sick or invalid. Those that gathered a little extra would share with those that could not gather. No one went hungry!
Wealth, like manna, is a gift from God. Those that have extra share with those who are in need. We see this played out today through soup kitchens, The River Church Community Center, benevolence funds, and neighbor helping a neighbor with a meal or help to pay a bill. Some can have more because of a skill, health, or diligence to work hard; while others are less successful because of illness, age, or lack of skills. Paul is telling the Corinthians “you have a lot, give to those in Jerusalem who have little.”
As the Israelites learned, if they gathered extra manna and tried to store it up, it “bred worms and stank” (Exodus 16:20). Similarly, if we gather great wealth and hoard it to ourselves, it will become useless to us, because when we die, “We can’t take it with us.” It means nothing in eternity. However, feeding the needy and helping others will mean something in eternity. Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”
Keep your eyes open to see who God will put in your path who may have a need you can fulfill. You may think you are only blessing them, but likely you will be the one blessed.
“A good character is the best tombstone.
Those who loved you and were helped by you
will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.
Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”