W. H. Griffith Thomas once wrote a concise volume entitled Christianity Is Christ. Thomas wrote, “CHRISTIANITY is the only religion in the world which rests on the Person of its Founder. Christianity is so inextricably bound up with Christ that our view of the Person of Christ involves and determines our view of Christianity. Does it not inevitably suggest that the connection between Christianity and Christ is so close as to be inseparable? Christianity is nothing less and can be nothing more than relationship to Christ.”
To increase as the body of Christ, a church must have love (Jn. 13:35). A church can overcome any barrier if love permeates the
fellowship (Acts 2:44).
Paul described a kind of love called agape. Jesus demonstrated this kind of love by His sacrificial death at Calvary (Jn. 3:16).
This kind of love exists in a Christian home when a husband cherishes the wife (Eph. 5:25). This kind of love also exists in
the Church when the believers sacrifice for one another (Jn. 15:13). Spiritual gifts alone will not build the church – love builds
the church (1 Cor. 8:1).
In 1890 Henry Drummond wrote the famous book on 1 Corinthians 13 entitled The Greatest Thing in the World.
A church which practices the love pictured in 1 Corinthians 13 will become the greatest church in the world.
Service to God is empty without love. A church will not be evangelistic and missionary without love. Men extracted and buried David Livingstone’s heart in Africa because of Livingstone’s love for that land.
Love endures forever because God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). John Wesley said, “And when you are asking others, ‘Have you received this or that blessing:’ – if you mean anything but more love, you mean wrong. . .
Settle it in your heart, that. . . you are to aim at nothing more, but more of that love described in the thirteenth of Corinthians.”
In the mid 1950s polio struck my older brother. He spent many days at the Children's Hospital in Birmingham. During those long hospital stays, he acquired several silver dollars as gifts. I kept one of the silver dollars that he shared with me.
At the Christmas season about the age of eight, I heard the genuine appeals from the pulpit for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions. This touched my heart. I took one of the envelopes for the mission offering and gave my only money–the one silver dollar. I gave that offering with a pure heart.
Thirty years later as a pastor, God placed that simple story of giving in a sermon of mine at Christmas time. I appealed to the people to give from the heart to this same offering for foreign missions. That week I received this letter.
December 5, 1993
I was deeply touched when you related your story to us concerning the silver dollar you gave to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering when you were a boy. I too had a similar experience when I was in high school. Therefore, I could relate very well to your experience. I believe the Lottie Moon Offering for Foreign Missions is a great and wonderful Christian initiative to reach the lost in foreign lands, and I have always supported it with my prayers and offerings.
Over the years I have collected and traded coins as a hobby. I found this silver dollar hidden back in one of my dresser drawers. I remembered your story from last Sunday, and I decided that it would be nice to replace the silver dollar you gave to the Lottie Moon Offering. Now, if you decide to contribute this one to Lottie Moon, make sure you convert it in today's currency because they are now worth twenty times the one you donated. However, I would like for you to keep this one and possibly use it as an example in one of your sermons.
Two years later, I did repeat this story in another Christmas sermon for missions. Now, I added the truth of Luke 6:38 to the story. Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." Little did I expect to receive this letter.
Dear Bro. Paul,
I listened with interest when you read the letter the other day. It reminded me of something I had really forgotten about. In fact, when I went to look for these dollars, I couldn't find them in the first few places I looked.
Several years ago, the Treasury issued some silver dollars with one percent silver. I purchased as many as I could and from time to time or special situations, I would give one away. When I got down to the last ten, I decided to horde and keep them. But, now I would like to give one to you.
This is in no way meant to replace the special gift and thought or to take from the other kind person. But, as we all know sometimes the Lord pays back two fold for our generosity.
The next year I hesitated to update the story lest someone think I only wanted another silver dollar! Yet, I did want the church to know the truth of Philippians 4:19. Paul said, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." So I brought the two coins to church and told the story to the children.
A year later with another mission trip just completed, I preached the Christmas sermon on missions with no reference to the offering or the silver dollars. God surprised me. God touched a lady to come and place a third silver dollar in my hand. She had a passion for missions in her heart and explained the touching reason why. God does call some to go, but all can give. She asked me to write this story and tell it again.
God will multiply a sacrificial gift. At Christmas, we remember that God gave His Son, the only Son of His love. Maybe, God will touch another heart to give this Christmas that someone in the world may know Jesus. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
1 Th. 5:18. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus con-cerning you.
“In everything” – The Apostle meant to associ-ate thanksgiving in everything. One translation reads: “Continue to give thanks whatever be your lot.” Chrysostom said, “Even if it be dis-ease or poverty.” Spurgeon said it meant praise to God “in every situation, under every circum-stance, before, in and after trials, in bright days of glee, and dark nights of fear.”
Ps. 34:1. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Alexander Whyte, the Scottish preacher, always began his prayers with an expression of grati-tude. One cold, miserable day his people won-dered what he would say. He prayed, “We thank Thee, O Lord, that it is not always like this.”
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!
(August L. Storm, 1891)