Benefits and Benefactors by Rev. Tony Cooke

Benefits and Benefactors
Rev. Tony Cooke

benefits and benefactorsEveryone likes benefits! One of the great insights students of the Bible receive is that God offers benefits to His children. A prime example is found in Psalm 103.

Psalm 103:2-5
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

As important as it is to not forget His benefits, it is paramount that we give praise to the Benefactor. Keep in mind, these are not just benefits, but they are His benefits. If there is no benefactor there are no benefits. A benefactor is one whose actions benefit another, one who makes a gift, or bestows a favor. The word is derived from two Latin words, bene (good) and facio (to make or do).

Philanthropists often make news when they make large financial donations to charity. For example, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have drawn considerable attention in recent years as they have given billions of dollars to charitable causes. In addition, they challenged other wealthy people to give at least half of their fortunes to the charities of their choice. Warren Buffett made this pledge: “More than 99% of my wealth will go to philanthropy during my lifetime or at death.”

There is no greater benefactor, though, than God Himself! 

    1. Psalm 84:11 tells us that, “…No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
    2. Psalm 115:16 says, “…the earth He has given to the children of men.” 
    3. John 3:16 declares that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”  
    4. In Luke 12:32 Jesus told the disciples, “…it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
    5. Paul spoke of God’s benevolence toward us in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
    6. Peter also magnified God as the greatest benefactor of all when he said (2 Peter 1:3), “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…”

Jesus Had Benefactors
When Jesus was on this earth, God raised up certain benefactors to enable Him to carry out His assignment. Let’s look at three of these:

When the wise men from the east arrived, Matthew 2:11 (NLT) tells us, “…they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Jesus was worshipped, and those worshipping Him (Gentiles) brought valuable gifts from their treasures. No doubt these gifts were the resources which enabled Joseph to take his young family to Egypt and to be sustained there until Herod died.

Jesus and His team had ministry “partners” who provided regular financial support. Luke 8:2-3 (Wuest) mentions many women, “…who were of such a nature that they kept on supplying them with food and the other necessities of life out of their possessions.”

The Williams Translation of this verse also brings out the regular and consistent nature of their benevolence: “…and many other women, who continued to contribute to their needs out of their personal means.”  

Even in his death, Jesus had benefactors: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Matthew 27:57-60 tells us that Joseph was a rich man who requested the body of Jesus from Pilate, prepared it for burial, and “placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of rock.”  John 19:39 informs us Nicodemus joined Joseph in helping prepare Jesus’ body for burial, and that he, “…brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. “  William Barclay says, “Nicodemus brought enough spices for the burial of a king.”  The New American Commentary says, "It was truly an immense amount of spice. Indeed, it was enough spice to bury a king royally."

Benefactors Were Important in the Early Church
Many made significant contributions to the church in Jerusalem, but one is singled out. Acts 4:36-37 says, “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement)… having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  The Apostle Paul certainly valued the church in Philippi as benefactors of his ministry (Philippians 4:15-16).

Though not necessarily a person of great financial means, Dorcas, a New Testament believer in Joppa, possessed the heart of a benefactor. Acts 9:36 says, “She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.”  When she died, Peter came, and verse 39 says, “The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.”  Of course, it was a great miracle that she was raised from the dead, but we shouldn’t overlook the tremendous blessing she was to others.

Our Prayer?
When we think about benefactors and benefits, it’s natural to want to pray, “God send me a benefactor!  Send someone like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet across my path!” 

But let me suggest a better prayer. Why not make it our prayer, “Lord, make me a benefactor!”  We’ve probably all heard the phrase: “If God can get it through you, God will get it to you.”

Paul envisioned the Corinthian believers receiving grace from God to become benefactors (2 Corinthians 9:8-9, Amplified): “And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever!”

May we all seek to be benefactors – may it be said of us that we were those whose actions benefitted humanity, that we were great gift-givers and favor-bestowers. May we be those who were known for doing good and blessing others. And let’s not limit this to financial areas… let’s be benefactors in every area of our lives. May our deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence go on and endure forever!