Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. – Acts 11:27-30
Two kids are riding in a wagon. The one in the back is always picking things up, handing them to the one in the front. He examines the item, shrugs his shoulders, and tosses away the item. The guy in the front of the wagon is me; I’m constantly considering things people hand me, examining them to determine if I can, need to, or should do something with or about that particular concern, and more often than not, tossing it away.
Of course that’s a bit of an exaggeration; I don’t throw away things precipitously or carelessly. But there are many – thanks be to God – who are prone to give attention to the concerns, needs, and desires of others. Sometimes the squeaky wheel is just squeaky. Sometimes it actually does need some grease.
In this instance the decision to take the word of the prophets seriously and act upon it indicates something important about God’s word (through the prophets in this case), and about what it means to believe that word.
Thank God the people listened and responded to the message that God relayed to them through the prophets! Indeed there would be a famine, and Christians would respond to the need with gifts sent to the elders in Jerusalem by way of Barnabas and Saul.
I’m not certain what keeps people from responding to the needs of others: whether it is compassion fatigue, selfishness, hard-heartedness, or a false understanding of faith and belief. People certainly need constantly to be reminded that God forgives sinners, and that our salvation is dependent only on God’s promise and faith that receives the gift of God. There is nothing we must do to be saved. God has done it all for us in Jesus’ life suffering, death, and resurrection.
To hide a life of disobedience behind the facade of false faith dishonors what it means to believe in Jesus. Faith embraces the promises of God and inclines us more and more to obey Jesus’ commands. The response of the Christians to the word of the famine and the opportunity to provide relief was a response of faith.
Lord, I believe. Help me live faithfully.