Andrew Carnegie, Alfred Sloan, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Ezra Cornell, Samuel Kress, Andrew Mellon, Will Kellogg, Leland Stanford, James Duke—names associated with two things in America: making money and giving money away. History remembers these legendary philanthropists because of their willingness to meet human and civic needs through the distribution of their wealth. Hospitals, universities, museums, libraries, and charitable foundations funded by philanthropists are worthy efforts to show love for the human race—for one’s fellow man.
While the actions of philanthropists are commendable (they reflect the giving nature of God, in whose image philanthropists are created), they differ markedly from the example set by the Philanthropist—God himself. The key to understanding God as philanthropist is in Paul’s words written to Titus. It was the “kindness and love” of God that was made manifest when he gave his Son as a gift to the world. The “love” that God demonstrated is philanthropia in Greek, “love for mankind.” It is plain to see why we label as philanthropists those who give gifts for the benefit of mankind. And yet note the distinctions between human and divine philanthropy.
Human philanthropists meet earthly, temporal needs. Schools, hospitals, and the like have limited application. They meet the needs of a limited number of people in a specific geographical area during a particular window of time in human history. Divine philanthropy, on the other hand, meets spiritual, eternal needs. God’s gift to mankind is for all people, in every nation, for all eternity. And while one common element—the needs of human beings—unites all philanthropy, one final distinction separates God’s gift from all other human gifts. Human philanthropists give things of limited value—a small portion of a vast estate—whereas God gave his most valued “possession,” his own Son.
You, like most people, have benefited from philanthropists’ generosity. But are you also one who has received the gift of the divine Philanthropist? His gift of kindness and love, his own Son, is yours for the receiving. Those who receive by believing are the chosen recipients of God’s heavenly philanthropy.
God’s Promise to You: “I have given to you my most treasured gift, my own Son.”
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