1 Corinthians 13: 3
“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the fifth session on the chapter on spiritual love. Sometimes, people leave their hometown and move to a bigger city or to another country to gain more income.
Often, they want to come back to their hometown after they earn a lot of money. If it’s not easy to come back because of their children’s education or their business, they want to spend at least their last days of life in their hometown. Although life in another country or city is difficult, they work hard because they have this kind of dream.
We believers in the Lord are in similar situation. We are staying in a foreign country, which is this world, preparing for an eternal life in our hometown, heavenly kingdom.
Especially, now, we don’t have so much time left to go back home.
Therefore, we should work harder to prepare a better dwelling house and gain more rewards.
Also, we should also enter into the city of New Jerusalem, in which our Father is dwelling. In order to do that, as said in 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love,” we have to work hard for the kingdom of God, and we have to do everything with love.
The things that we do without love cannot be our reward, and it has no benefit to us. To work faithfully and devote ourselves with true love, we have to quickly accomplish spiritual love in our heart.
Therefore, through this message, I hope you will quickly accomplish spiritual love and do everything with love, so that you will receive a great amount of reward from God who pays back to us according to what we have done.
I pray in the name of the Lord that, by doing so, you will enjoy all the more abundant and happier eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, have you helped those who are suffering from diseases, disaster, or hunger by providing them with some things or financial support?
Or have you experienced the smiles of happiness that you had after helping somebody?
I think most of you have this kind of experience.
But would you feel the same kind of happiness even if nobody recognizes that you are helping the needy?
If you can boldly say ‘Yes’, your helping must be true helping that has love in it.
Then, is there anybody who will ask, “Helping others is to sacrifice oneself to help others, and can it be untrue?”
Yes, it can be untrue, as today’s reading passage 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
Then, can there be no love even though you are helping others not just with something but with everything that you have? For example, let’s say a person has helped somebody with a great amount of money. But then, when nobody has recognized him, he feels kind of disappointed. Can this charitable work be true?
Also, let’s say somebody helped his neighbor with all his best, but this neighbor doesn’t really feel thankful, but rather he asks for more things.
Then, if that helper thinks, “How can he do that? Why did I try so much to help that person?”, and feels disappointed, then that helping is not with true and unconditional love.
Even if you give all you have to help others, if your heart that was seeking goodness changes in the middle, that helping cannot be true charitable work with true love.
Usually, towards the end of the year, many organizations and individuals donate money to help the needy to the broadcasting or newspaper companies.
Some people donate even hundreds of thousands of dollars. But if the name of the donor is not revealed, will they donate the same amount? Probably they won’t in most cases.
Of course, not everybody is like that, but sometimes, they argue with the broadcasters or newspaper companies if their names are not mentioned.
It’s not only with the worldly people. Even among the believers, there are some people who help others just to reveal that they are leaders in church and have that much love.
This kind of charitable work has only the formality without any love, although one has given his money, time, and everything. So, he cannot receive any blessing or rewards for this.
Matthew 6:1-2 says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”
If you help others in hypocrisy to gain honor from men, you may gain praises from others at that moment, but you will have no rewards from God.
That kind of helping is not either for God or for neighbors but only for yourself, and therefore, God cannot give any reward for that.
Therefore, if you don’t have love, even if you help others giving out your everything, there is no benefit.
If you do this kind of charitable work only on the outside, your heart will be lifted up more and more as you gain more praises, and you will continually take the pride of this life.
If God blesses this kind of person, he may consider himself proper in God’s sight. Then, he won’t circumcise his heart, and this will consequently harm him.
Therefore, even if God wants to give blessings, He cannot give.
Then, what kind of helping is true charitable work with true love?
After Jesus warned about hypocrisy in Matthew 6:1-2, He teaches us how to help others in verses 3-4, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Namely, He tells us that we have to do it in secret.
Then, is there anybody who will misunderstand this by thinking, “If what I have done is known to others, does it mean I cannot get any reward? If my helping is known to others, does it mean it is untrue?”
“Not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing” does not mean something like that.
It means that we have to keep our mind so that we will not give to the poor just to gain honor from others.
He is telling us to give to the poor with true love stemming from heart, only for the benefit of our neighbor.
If you do charitable works with love for your neighbors, you wouldn’t care whether other people recognize you or not.
You are happy just that your neighbors’ situations have become better. If your good deed is known to others and they praise you, you rather feel embarrassed.
Because the grace you received from the Lord is so great, you also want to give to others.
Also, thinking like, “The Lord is so pleased with love and good deeds, and how delightful he will be!” you will also be happy. Especially, because you believe that God the Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you, you are even happier.
The kind of giving that God accepts most delightfully is when you give to the poor with true love and thankful heart that you can give for the kingdom of God and for your neighbors.
Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.”
As said, God the Father certainly gives back with blessings and rewards even for the very secret good works you do.
Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 is a person who received such a blessing.
Acts 10:2 says, “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.” As said, he feared God and helped the people a lot. He was a centurion of Roman Army staying in Caesarea, ruling over Israel.
Cornelius had great authority and fame as an army commander of the Roman Empire, but he had much goodness and love to help the Jewish people.
God was pleased with him, and moved Peter so that he could hear the gospel and receive the Holy Spirit for the first time as a Gentile.
Not only himself, but also his family members and friends were saved.
If a small jewel is mixed with sand, when light is shone, the jewel will reveal itself among the sands with the bright reflection. In the same way, those who have true goodness and love will be clearly seen by God’s eyes.
In Actschapter 9 we find a woman disciple called Tabitha, who was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. She received the blessing of coming back to life after she died. Her deeds of kindness and charity were so truthful.
When Peter arrived at the place where her corpse was laid, it says,”and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas(namely Tabitha) used to make while she was with them.”
Cornelius and Tabitha received great blessings through their good deeds and charitable works, and the common factor in them was they loved God so much that they always prayed and helped their neighbors with true love for them.
Also, as we can see Tabitha was a disciple, we can understand that she must have tried hard to preach the gospel.
Many of our members also love God passionately, so you try to give to God again and again to help the kingdom of God to be accomplished, and to help your shepherd in doing works of charity for other churches and families in need.
You could have saved that money to buy better house and better clothes and better food, but you love God, your shepherd and your brothers and sisters, and you give up everything, but you are still delighted.
God the Father receives all this heart of yours, who are giving all you have. He will not only abundantly give you good things both spiritually and materially, but also He will give you the best and the most beautiful heavenly dwelling places.
Therefore, I hope you will not do the kind of good deeds just to gain honor from others but do the deeds of charity of which the aroma of love will be accepted by God, so that you will enjoy blessings both in spirit and in body.
Brothers and sisters, in order to do this kind of true deeds of charity, you have to accomplish goodness and love in your heart.
To the extent that you have goodness and love in your heart, can you do the deeds of charity which are more truthful. Furthermore, to the extent that you have love and goodness in you, you can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly, so you can do more proper charitable works in God’s sight.
It is important to hear the voice and receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit in doing works of charity because charitable works in the Lord is different from those of this world. So, when we obey the will of God can we do more perfect deeds of charity.
Charitable works in the Lord is not just about supplying basic needs of life like clothes, food, and housing. It is also about supplying the food of spirit to save the soul.
Today, whether they are believers in the Lord or not, many people say the role of churches is to help the sick, the neglected, and the poor. Of course, it is not wrong.
But the first duty of churches is to preach the gospel and save the souls so that they will gain spiritual peace. The ultimate goal of charitable works lies here.
Charitable works for saving physical life can give momentary comfort on this earth, but consequently, it cannot save the soul, and so, it has no benefit just like the charitable works without love.
Therefore, when we help others, it is very important to do a proper work of charity by receiving guidance of the Holy Spirit.
If some improper help was given to a certain person, we may make that person stay farther away from the Lord, and in worst case, we may even drive him to the way of death.
For example, some people come to church not because they care about faith but just to receive some financial help. They come to church to abuse the good intention of church for their own benefit.
In this case, if we help them, it is only to help them disappoint God. If we help this kind of people thoughtlessly, only the church will have problems, and it will not really help anybody. If they have just a little bit of faith or goodness in heart, when they receive help, they will be thankful for God and the church, so that they will keep on attending church to receive salvation.
Then, their faith will grow up, and at the proper time, they will askGod to give them what they need and receive answers.
They will also give their tithes, thanks offerings and other offerings with their own faith.
But I am not saying you should not help those who don’t have faith.
Sometimes, we should also help the worldly people to spread the love of the Lord, and in case of new believers who have weak faith, we should strengthen them until their faith grows up.
Sometimes, among those members who do not really have faith, there are some who have congenital infirmity or disease, or there are others who get into accidents. So, they cannot make a living by themselves. Or in case of those senior citizens who are living alone and in case of children, they are in desperate need of charitable works.
All I am saying is that we should understand what one soul needs the most, and help them in such a way that it will benefit both their spirit and body.
We can do better in this kind of charitable works to the extent that we have spiritual love and that we pray more earnestly for other people and receive wisdom of goodness.
Therefore, we children of God should try to help others, but we should not just help thoughtlessly just by our fleshly affection or with only our thoughts.
Even though it is your money, you should recognize the fact that everything was given by God. So, we have to help others according to the will of God who is the owner of everything, by receiving the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Among our members are many who came to this church when they were in great difficulties, but as they progressed in faith, they escaped from diseases and poverty, and are receiving great blessings now. There are also many families that became evangelized and peaceful after they received charitable works from the church. Their family members work faithfully for the Lord, and are receiving blessings, too.
Many of them began to help others who are in need, with the desire to pay back the debt of love.
How happy a thing this is!
Especially, in this church, we have the power of God and word of life clearly teaching you the ways to receive blessings.
You can receive the answers to any kind of problem and healings of any kind of serious disease, and so you are filled with more hope.
I met the Lord when I lost my health, the peace of family, and all my money because of the 7-years’ of sickness.
But at the moment I knelt down before the Lord, I was healed of all my diseases, and as I received blessings by living by the word, I could pay back such a great amount of debt as well. My family gained peace again, and now, I can help many other people who are suffering from various things like diseases and poverty, like myself in the past.
Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will receive clear guidance of the Holy Spirit and help others spiritually to save more souls, so that you will receive great blessings and rewards both on this earth and in heavenly kingdom.
Let me tell you one more thing. Not only when we help our neighbors, but also when we give to God offerings, it is of no benefit if we give without love.
In the Old Testament when people were giving animal sacrifices, God smelled the aroma when they burnt the sacrifices.
This spiritually means God was receiving the heart and love of people embedded in the sacrifice.
Likewise, God the Father does not receive the offering itself but the aroma of heart of the giver. In Mark chapter 12, we find a widow who gave her offering with all her heart and was praised by Jesus.
When she put the two copper coins, in the treasury, which was everything she had,Jesus said she gave more than anybody else who gave more amount of money.
Two copper coins was such a small amount, which is not even one US dollar in today’s amount.
Why did Jesus praise not those who were giving much but the widow who gave only two copper coins?
Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Therefore, when the widow gave all her living expenses to God, it means that her whole heart was for God.
She did not give being forced or being aware of other people’s eyes, but with her true love from her heart. God the Father’s measure on the people who are giving offerings is different from that of men.
Therefore, when you give your tithes, thanks offerings, church construction, missionary, or charitable offerings, please do not just think, “This much is enough,” but I hope you will give all your heart and all your love in the offerings.
Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ, Matthew 25:34-36 says, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”
Then the righteous asked Lord when they did such things to the Lord.
Then the Lord says, “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
Likewise, if you help your neighbors with true love, that work is same as helping our Lord, and later, you will gain great praises and rewards.
Therefore, with the heart to serve the Lord, I hope you will diligently care for people around you who are hungry, thirsty, and suffering.
By doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that your deeds of goodness and charity will be eternally recorded in heavenly kingdom and shine, and you will receive great praises and rewards from the Lord.