Thursdays With Oswald—Philanthropy, Prayer, And Penance

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Philanthropy, Prayer, And Penance 

     In chapter Matthew 5, our Lord demands that our disposition be right with Him in our ordinary natural life lived to men; in chapter 6, He deals with the domain of our life lived to God before men. The main idea in the region of religion is: Your eyes on God, not on men. …  

     Briefly summed up these verses [6:1-4] mean: Have no other motive in giving than to please God. In modern philanthropy we are ‘egged on’ with other motives—It will do them good; they need the help; they deserve it. Jesus Christ never brings out that aspect in His teaching; He allows no other motive in the giving than to please God. … It is a very penetrating thing to ask ourselves this question—“What was my motive in doing that kind act?” … 

     But when you give it to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” That means do good until it is an unconscious habit of the life and you do not know you are doing it…. 

     Have no other motive in prayer than to know Him [6:5-15]. … Call a halt one moment and ask yourself—“Why do I pray? What is my motive? Is it because I have a personal secret relationship to God known to no one but myself?” … 

     It is impossible to live the life of a disciple without definite times of secret prayer. You will find that the place to enter in is in your business, as you walk along the streets, in the ordinary ways of life, when no one dreams you are praying, and the reward comes openly, a revival here, a blessing there. …  

     In verse 8 Jesus goes to the root of all prayer—“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Common sense says, “Then why ask Him?” Prayer is not getting things from God, that is a most initial stage; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God; I tell him what I know He knows in order that I may get to know it as He does. …  

     Penance [6:16-18] means putting ourselves into a straitjacket for the sake of disciplining our spiritual character. Physical sloth will upset spiritual devotion quicker than anything else. If the devil cannot get at us by enticing to sin, he will get at us by sleeping-sickness spiritually…. Penance means doing a hardship to the body for the sake of developing the spiritual life. … Jeremy Taylor said that men hang out the sign of the devil; to prove there is an angel within; that is, they wear sad countenances and look tremendously severe in order to prove they are holy. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Good questions from Oswald Chambers:

  • Philanthropy—What was my motive in doing that kind act?
  • Prayer—Why do I pray? What is my motive? Is it because I have a personal secret relationship to God known to no one but myself?
  • Penance—Am I “hanging out a sign” just to let other people know that I’m discipling myself? 

My New Club

The newest member of the Junky Car Club
The newest member of the Junky Car Club

I like my car. It’s a 1992 Pontiac Bonneville. This is the second Bonneville I’ve owned. I bought my first one with 70,000 miles and put 130,000 miles on it. I bought my second Bonneville with 100,000 miles on it, and I’m now up to 175,000 miles.

It’s running like a top. But it’s now officially a member of the Junky Car Club.

This club was started by a pastor who was concerned about how much money we were spending to keep up appearances. Like somehow a good-looking, new-fangled, gadget-laden, brand-spanking-new car signaled to everyone that we were successful.

Successful, maybe. But also spending a lot of money to make sure everyone knows how successful we are (ore pretend to be). So instead of spending the money on the car payments, why not keep the older car and then be able to give more money to worthwhile charities? Great concept! To hear Dave Ramsey talk with JCC founder Mike Foster, check out this video.

My car may rattle a bit, and the trunk leaks when it rains, and the interior dome light doesn’t come on when I open the door, and the coat hanger in the back seat is broken. But I hate having car payments, and my car is running just fine. I joined the JCC because I love what they stand for, and I want to identify with them.

If your car is older and you’re contemplating a shiny-new car, I would ask you to consider joining the JCC with me. The money you’ll be saving on car payments, that you can give away, can make a huge difference in others’ lives.

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