Jesus the Great Philanthropist
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
— Acts 10:38
In today’s Sparkling Gem, I feel especially led to highlight a truth from Acts 10:38 that has deeply impacted my life. Although I had read this verse hundreds of times, I was amazed when I saw this truth because I’d never realized before what I’m about to tell you, nor had I ever heard anyone teach about it. Since then, this one revelation has had a huge effect on Denise and me and the way we conduct our ministry.
Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” What I want to share with you today concerns a very real aspect of Jesus’ ministry you may have never thought about before.
Most people focus on the part of this verse that describes the healing and deliverance ministry of Jesus — both of which are, of course, so very important. But there’s something else in this verse that’s also very significant, and I overlooked it for many years. Then one day as I was studying my Greek New Testament, my eyes fell on a particular Greek word in this verse and I began to study it. What I learned completely opened up a part of Jesus’ ministry I had never considered. I’m talking about the phrase that says Jesus “went about doing good.”
I was truly taken aback when I saw the words “doing good” in the Greek language because I’d always thought the phrase in this context was just a descriptive summary of healing the sick and delivering those who were oppressed by the devil. But those words actually refer to a completely different aspect of Jesus’ ministry — and one of the largest and most profound parts of His ministry on the earth. I wondered how it was possible that I’d never heard anyone teach about something that provided such an eye-opening view right into the heart of Jesus!
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The words “doing good” in Acts 10:38 are a translation of the Greek word euergeteo, an old word that denotes a benefactor; a philanthropist; one who financially supports charitable works; or a person who uses his financial resources to meet the needs of disadvantaged people. This word was used only to portray the provision of food, clothes, or some other commodity to meet a physical or material need. Thus, the use of this word in Acts 10:38 emphatically means that a part of Jesus’ ministry was comprised of meeting the physical and tangible needs of people who were disadvantaged in some way.
Of course, we know that Jesus performed supernatural miracles of provision — such as the time He multiplied five barley loaves and two fish to feed a large crowd of thousands of people (see John 6:1-13). However, the word euergeteo in Acts 10:38 tells us that His ministry also provided natural, material help to people who were in need.
By reading the four gospels, it becomes evident that Jesus’ ministry possessed enormous financial resources that came from various places. Besides offerings that were received, Luke 8:2 and 3 says there was a group of very wealthy women who supported Jesus’ work (see Sparkling Gems 1, November 18). Another indication of Jesus’ significant resources is the fact that He had a treasurer — His disciple, Judas Iscariot — who was responsible for handling the ministry finances.
In John 12:3, it is recorded that Mary used a pound of expensive spikenard — a rare scented oil — to anoint Jesus’ feet. Judas asked Jesus, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (v. 5). We can infer from Judas’ words that Jesus’ ministry had a philanthropic outreach to the poor, over which Judas had been placed in charge as treasurer.
Acts 10:38 makes it even more clear that a significant outreach of Jesus’ ministry was to provide physical and material assistance to people in need. The use of the word euergeteo explicitly tells us that Jesus used His resources to do good works, such as caring for the poor and helping feed the needy. Thus, He set an example for us today to be involved in meeting people’s basic human needs as He enables us to do so.
Acting in “goodness” is a characteristic of God’s nature. In Acts 10:38, Luke mentioned this philanthropic aspect of Jesus’ ministry in connection with His healing ministry — in the very same sentence. The Holy Spirit was conveying the message that God is just as interested in helping the poor and needy with physical and material assistance as He is in supernaturally healing their bodies. Thus, we can know that helping meet the physical needs of others — performing similar acts of goodness — is just as much a part of Jesus ministry today as it was when He “went about doing good” in His earthly ministry almost 2,000 years ago.
Jesus longs to do it all — to physically heal sick bodies, to deliver those who are spiritually oppressed, and to help meet the meets of the poor. Jesus is still a Philanthropist!
I don’t know why this would ever be a surprise to us. Whether we fully realize it or not, we’ve all experienced God’s tender care in our lives. From the beginning of the Old Testament to this moment, He has cared for the needs of His people and has made provision for those who come to Him in faith — including you and me. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So it makes perfect sense that He would demonstrate this same caring nature both through His earthly ministry then and through His Body, the Church, today.
Furthermore, Galatians 5:22 tells us that one of the fruits of the Spirit is “goodness.” This word is translated from the Greek word agathusune, which comes from the word agathos, meaning good. But when agathos becomes the word agathusune, it means goodness in the sense of being good to someone. This word portrays a person who is generous, big-hearted, liberal, and charitable. We would call this person a giver.
This means one of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit — and one of the fruits He longs to produce in our lives — is the demonstration of care for others in physical and tangible ways. When we exhibit this characteristic by demonstrating care to others, we are acting like God Himself!
By listing this word “goodness” as one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 and 23, God lets us know that He wants us to be selfless and use our resources to help change people’s lives. This is absolutely contrary to the flesh, which would consume every spare dollar on itself. But when the Holy Spirit is working mightily in us, He shifts our focus from ourselves to the needs of those around us. The fruit of the Spirit called “goodness” creates in us a supernatural urge to reach beyond ourselves to meet the natural needs of others.
The truth is, when a believer is walking in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit opens his eyes to see the needs of humanity, and that person’s heart is moved to meet those needs. This is why there’s no greater benefactors or philanthropists in the world than those who are filled with the Spirit of God.
There are so many human needs in this world, and no one person, ministry, or organization can meet them all. But we are each responsible to respond to the nudge of the Holy Spirit to help those He brings across our path. If we’ll each respond to the distinct nudges we feel from Him — one by one, many needs will be met. And through those acts of goodness, Jesus will touch hearts in a very tangible way.
Throughout the Scriptures, you can find that helping those in need is deeply significant in God’s eyes. My own heart has been gripped by the number of passages that promise His supernatural help and blessing to those who demonstrate care for the disadvantaged and the poor. For example, Psalm 41:1 and 2 says, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.”
Since Acts 10:38 became such a revelation to me, Denise and I have been obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit when He quickens us to meet the needs of those in trouble. We call this aspect of our ministry our rescuing outreaches. Through this part of our work, we are reaching out to literally rescue the hurting and perishing with both the physical and spiritual help they need. As I already said, we know we can’t physically help everyone. But when it’s apparent that God has brought certain people across the path of our ministry for us to help them, we do our best to obey His Spirit’s promptings.
Since the time we first saw this profound truth in Acts 10:38 about ministering to the needs of others, Denise and I have accepted our responsibility to preach, teach, lay hands on the sick, and pray for spiritual needs to be met. But we have also embraced our role to help meet the physical needs of humanity and to be like Jesus, who was and still is the world’s greatest Philanthropist. We are so thankful for every opportunity to share God’s Word, but we also count it an honor that He would use us to extend a hand of mercy to people who are in need.
I encourage you to make the commitment today to be a prompt doer of the Word when the Holy Spirit nudges your heart to do something extra in this area of meeting the material needs of those less blessed than you. It’s another way you can be as Jesus is in this world — as you go about doing good, led each step of the way by the Spirit of God!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to help me become more like Jesus, who was the world’s greatest Philanthropist! Help me not just to say I love people, but rather to show them love by my actions and deeds. Open my eyes to see the needs of those around me — and even to see how I can give of my finances to help people in other parts of the world. Since this was the heart of Jesus, it should be my heart too. Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me become like Jesus and do all that I can both spiritually and physically to meet the needs of those You bring across my path.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God is using me to meet the physical and material needs of others. When God brings someone across my path who is hurting, I willingly respond to the Lord’s direction concerning how He wants to use me to help meet his or her need. I can’t help everyone, but I can and will help those He leads me to help. I obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings and do what He instructs me to do. I am an extended hand of mercy to people who are hurting and disadvantaged. When the Holy Spirit needs someone to make a difference in another person’s life, He knows He can count on me to be available!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What are you doing to help meet the physical and material needs of others? Does your church have an outreach to help the poor and needy? If not, could you respectfully ask your pastor why there is no philanthropic ministry to help the less fortunate? Jesus helped those in need, so shouldn’t we be doing it too?
- What are some ways you can begin to practically give help to those who are hurting and in need? Do you have any clothes you could give to someone else? Could you prepare a meal for a family that might be struggling or disadvantaged?
- Can you think of a time when someone helped you through a rough financial time? What kind of impact did it make on you? Have you considered that maybe it’s time for you to do the same thing for someone else?