Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—Jesus’ Benevolent Heart
The word benevolence is rarely used in modern society. If you are under the age of 50 then you may have never heard the word. Although there are various definitions for benevolence, we are referring to the biblical definition of having the disposition to do good. The disposition [natural tendency] to do good is not based on acts of kindness. Benevolence is one of the character traits of the Fruit of the Spirit. The individual has a good heart regardless of the circumstances. The benevolent heart seeks to please God and do good for others.
Our role model is Jesus Christ. His divine nature is to please God as evidenced by never-ceasing goodness. Throughout the Bible, Jesus’ nature is revealed to humanity. It was Jesus who created the world and human beings. “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
Is Jesus also God? Bible theologians agree that Hebrews chapter 1 describes the coronation of Jesus in heaven and gives us evidence that God the Father called Jesus, God, and that Jesus is the Creator.
But to the Son, He says, Your throne, O God is forever and ever, A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions [the angels]. You, LORD, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands… (Hebrews 1:8-10)
Jesus’ benevolent heart is evidenced by His heavenly role of Intercessor [High Priest] for humanity. The splendor of this earth and the cosmic beauty of the universe proclaim His goodness! Yet, Jesus’ most incredible creation is human beings who are made in His image. In Psalm 139, verse 14, King David says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”
Jesus performed countless miracles from heaven [documented in the Old Testament] before He was born on earth and grew into manhood. We are also privileged to study His earthly life in the New Testament. Jesus’ benevolent heart is demonstrated by the numerous, compassionate miracles of healing and feeding the hungry].
Yet, John, the disciple that Jesus loved [because John desired to have the character of Christ] records in John chapter 21, verse 25, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen” (John 21:25).
And we delight in reading the release of Paul and Silas who sang and their chains fell off. An angel was sent to release Peter from jail and the Apostle John [who Jesus loved] was boiled in oil but suffered no burns and was saved from death.
From Jesus’ benevolent heart love, grace, and mercy flow abundantly for us–His sons and daughters who He died for. What about us? Do we have benevolent hearts?
There are three things that we will be judged on:
1. Did we have a relationship with Christ? “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
2. Did we strive to have the character of Christ? “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “Because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
3. Did we love God and others as evidenced by our benevolent heart? “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” (1 John 3:17)
Although Merriam-Webster dictionary defines benevolence as “acts of kindness” the biblical meaning of benevolence is having the spiritual character trait of goodness. As Christians, God expects us to be Christ-like in our character, thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Our Heavenly Father is aware that we cannot change without Divine Intervention.
Sanctification is continuous spiritual growth that can only be achieved by the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit. The human effort of prayer, studying of the Scriptures, faith, trust, and obedience to God places us in the posture of humility to receive the Divine power required for spiritual transformation. To possess the Fruit of the Spirit is to possess a benevolent heart.
Prayer: God, we commit ourselves to You and ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to empower us to have a benevolent heart. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.