October 20 2017 19:33:00
THE POWER OF A GIFT

1 ...the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;

2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.

Nehemiah 13:1-2.

The gift you give can open to you an everlasting door of favour; the gift you miss the opportunity to give can shut against you an everlasting door of favour. Not only what we do but also what we fail to do has eternal consequences.

In this passage, we see not only the power of a gift but also the power of hatred and rebellion. For two reasons, God perpetually shut against Ammon and Moab the door into His house. Those nations not only failed to meet His people with refreshment, they instead hired enemies against those they had failed to bless. They not only failed to bless, they committed their withheld resources to hiring cursing prophets against the righteous and innocent whom they would not bless.

Mind those you oppose. They may never say a word against you, yet you could shut against yourself an eternal door of favour.

The first time God made this proclamation exempting those nations from His house was in Deuteronomy 23:3. Then He said the curse was only for a period of ten generations.

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever (Deuteronomy 23:3).

Many years after, the indicted people seemed to have done nothing about the case against them. Therefore, by the time the issue came up again about 700 years later in the book of Nehemiah, they seemed to have lost whatever window of grace there had been, and they were shut out not only for ten generations but forever. What was their crime? They failed to give a gift, and lost the chance to remedy their sin.

...the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever (Nehemiah 13:1).

Giving is an opportunity. According to this passage, the people of God did not ask for bread and water, yet the people of Moab were expected to have taken advantage of the opportunity they saw. It is not only those who ask us that we owe a favour. Those who carry a visible need are also a gateway into eternal blessings. If you say they do not deserve to receive because they did not ask, you will miss some opportunity to have brought blessing to yourself.

Nabal was a very wealthy man whose name meant “foolish.” His story is fully told in 1 Samuel 25. He had opportunity to support the ministry of the young and anointed David who, unfortunately, was on the run from a mad master who was after his life. On the day this “very rich” man was holding a lavish feast in his house “like the feast of a king “ (v.36), he had neither crumbs nor even a kind word for the supportive David and his helpful men. The gift he did not give killed him in ten days. Nabal's wife, Abigail, was wiser. Her name meant “source of joy” or “father.” She took advantage of the opportunity her husband had thrown to the winds. She loaded the donkeys with food and headed in the same direction. Her gifts saved her household and gave her a place in the palace. She became a queen.

Luke 16:19-31 tells the ironic story of “a certain rich man” who was so rich he was blinded from the beggar under his regular dinner table. Before long, things had turned the other way round; the beggar became the begged, begged by the same big man who gave him no chance with the dogs that fought with him over falling crumbs. Had that rich man ever dreamed the occasion would arise for him to beg the beggar...

Later experiences in the life of David seem to suggest that himself had learnt the power of gifts to strangers. The gesture saved him one day. God had sent him to pursue, overtake and recover what the enemy had looted from his camp. On the way, he found a dying stranger, an Egyptian slave, whom he and his men nurtured back to life. That young man, whose former master had abandoned to die on the way, became David's key to the recovery that God had predicted for him. The same young man turned out to be the ruin of the former master. The little refreshment that David gave to resuscitate that man back to life was the gift that made a way for David himself. You never can tell...

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity (Philippians 4:10).

Opportunity describes not only when we have to receive but also when we have to give. Never miss an opportunity to give. Remember Moab and Ammon: you might be opening an eternal door of favour to your posterity, or shutting one against yourself.

From The Preacher's diary.

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