The Divine Philanthropist
(John MacDuff, "The Mind of Jesus" 1870)
"He went around doing good." Acts 10:38
"Christ's great end," says Richard Baxter, "was to save men from their sins — but He also delighted to save them from their sorrows." His heart bled for human misery. Benevolence brought Him from heaven; and benevolence followed His steps wherever He went on earth. The journeys of the Divine Philanthropist were marked by tears of thankfulness, and breathings of grateful love. The helpless, the blind, the lame, the desolate — rejoiced at the sound of His footfall. Truly might it be said of Him, "I helped those without hope — and they blessed Me. And I caused the widows' hearts to sing for joy!" (Job 29:13)
All suffering hearts were a magnet to Jesus. It was not more His prerogative, than His happiness — to turn tears into smiles! One of the few pleasures which on earth gladdened the spirit of the "Man of sorrows" was the pleasure of doing good — soothing grief, and alleviating misery. Next to the joy of the widow of Nain when her son was restored — was the joy in the bosom of the Divine Restorer!
He often went out of His way to be kind. A journey was not grudged, even if one aching heart were to be soothed (Mark 5:1; John 4:4, 5). Nor were His kindnesses dispensed through the intervention of others. They were all personal acts. His own hand healed. His own voice spoke. His own footsteps lingered on the threshold of bereavement, or at the precincts of the tomb. Ah! had the princes of this world known the loving tenderness and unselfishness of that wondrous heart — "they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory!"
Reader! do you know anything of such active benevolence? Have you ever felt the luxury of doing good? Have you ever felt, that in making others happy — you make yourself so? Do you know anything of that great law of your being, enunciated by the Divine Patron and Pattern of Benevolence, "It is more blessed to give — than to receive?"
Has God enriched you with this world's goods? Seek to view yourself as a consecrated medium for dispensing them to others. Beware alike of miserly hoarding — and selfish extravagance! How sad the case of those whose lot God has made thus to abound with temporal mercies, who have gone to the grave unconscious of diminishing one drop of human misery, or making one of the world's myriad aching hearts happier! How the example of Jesus rebukes the cold and calculating kindnesses — the mite-like offerings of many even of His own people! "whose libation is not like His, from the brim of an overflowing cup — but from the bottom — from the dregs!"
You may have little to give. Your sphere and means may be alike limited. But remember that God is as much glorified by the trifle bestowed from the earnings of poverty — as by the splendid benefaction from the lap of plenty. "The Lord loves a cheerful giver!"
The nobler part of Christian benevolence is not vast donations, or munificent financial sacrifices. "He went about doing good." The merciful visit — the friendly word — the look of sympathy — the cup of cold water — the little unostentatious service — the giving without thought or hope of recompense — the kindly "considering of the poor" — anticipating their needs — considering their comforts — these are what God values and loves! They are "loans" to Himself — tributary streams to "the river of His pleasure". They will be acknowledged at last as such — "I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine — you did for Me!"