A thought came into my mind: Paul was “the perfect Jew.” Paul’s life demonstrated how the Abrahamic Covenant was meant to work in the world:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, and make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” —Genesis 12:1-3
The Jews understood God’s covenant with Abraham meant that God would bless him and his descendants. He promised to bless Abraham and Sarah by giving them a son (Isaac). God promised that He would bless Abraham’s descendants. He would give Abraham’s seed the land of Canaan, and He would bless them there. The problem was that the Hebrews came to look at God’s blessings as their sole possession, rather than as a stewardship. They did not understand (or they chose to forget) that the Abrahamic Covenant also meant that the they would be a source of blessing to “all the families of the earth.” The perfect example of their attitude is shown in the story of Jonah. He illustrated Israel’s hatred of the Gentiles and of the Jews’ refusal to be a “light to the Gentiles,” as they were meant to be. Sadly, Jonah was not the exception; he was the rule. Sadly, the Church has taken on many of the same characteristics.
On the other hand, Paul was the opposite of Jonah. Paul, a true and fulfilled Jew (a Jew who trusted in Jesus as the Messiah), was a blessing to the Gentiles. Earlier, we saw how Paul blessed the Gentiles by bringing the gospel to them. Paul was a blessing in other ways as well. He blessed those on board the ship by encouraging them, and he was without a doubt, their means of deliverance. Paul was a blessing to the shivering passengers by helping to keep the fire going. He was a blessing to Publius, and his father, as well as to the natives of Malta by healing the sick. To top all that off, because of the gratitude of the natives for Paul’s ministring to them, the passengers enjoyed the provisions the people of Malta gladly provided.
That is what the Hebrews were called to do, and that is what the Church is called to do, as well. Unbelievers should always be able to look to the Church for help, encouragement, strength and support. I have long argued that because the U.S. Government has replaced the role of the Church in caring for people (which it was never Constitutionally allowed to do), the Church has sat back and ignored its responsibilities. It is time for the Government to rediscover its limitations and restrictions—and the Church to wake up to its responsibilities of caring for the needs of society; of being the “light,” in a dark and dying world.
This is also the way a Jew was supposed to understand and apply the Abrahamic Covenant. It was not an excuse to look down on Gentiles, (like when you criticize their pagan religions) but rather, an incentive to serve the Gentiles and to be a blessing to them. What greater blessing can a “child of Abraham” be to unsaved Gentiles than to tell them of the salvation that Yehoveh has provided through the Jews, that is to say through Jesus?
Now just in case you think the Abrahamic Covenant does not teach Christians anything about being a blessing to others (particularly unbelievers), look at 1 Corinthians 7:
And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is happy to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified because of the wife, and the unbelieving wife because of her husband. [just paul was to the other passengers]. Otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy —I Corinthians 7:13-14
I am not sure I understand exactly how this works, but I do know that God’s presence in His people should prove to be a blessing to those who are around them. I wonder how much our neighbors and coworkers are blessed to have us around, knowing that God’s blessings somehow flows through us to them.
So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith (Galatians 6:10).
Some how, in many different ways, God uses our spiritual gifts to bless others. This isn’t the only way we can be a blessing to others. Paul blessed his shivering shipmates by gathering firewood. This seems like such a simple thing, something that Paul could have left to others to do—he was wet and cold and tired, just like the rest of them. In the same way our Lord Jesus served His disciples by the humble task of washing their feet, so we are to serve others by humble service. Sometimes it’s as simple as picking up a piece of trash someone has thoughtlessly left behind. Sometimes it may be mowing someone’s yard or washing their dishes. It might be giving someone a ride to the grocery store—or even buying the groceries if they are having a difficult time. Never look at yourself as being too good or too important to minister to others in humble ways. Taking a lesson from Paul, it may be high time for some Christians to “get on the stick.”
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts