What Good Are You Withholding?
In calling us to himself, Jesus calls us to more than an anti-to-do list. “Don’t do this…Don’t do that.” In calling us to himself, Jesus is calling us not only away from doing bad things but into doing good things.
Ray Ortlund, in his commentary on the book of Proverbs, comments on the culture of life wisdom creates. His comments are regarding Proverbs 3:27-28: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.”
“In a culture of life people help each other as much as they can. We cannot do the impossible. We cannot give what we do not have. But when it is in our power to do it, when we have it with us, wisdom says, “Give it away.” The grace of Jesus taught the Apostle Paul to say, “I am a debtor” (Romans 1:14, nkjv). He did not see himself as a demander but a debtor. Nobody owed him a hearing. He won a hearing by loving people the way God loved him—graciously.
Let me show you how radical this is. Verse 27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due.” But also note the alternative translation in the esv margin: “Do not withhold good from its owners.” If you have good you can do for somebody, then legally you own it, but morally they own it. The state has no right to force you to be generous. And no one can walk into your house and start helping themselves to your things and say, “The Bible says I own it.” What the Bible says to them is, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). But what the Bible says to you is, “You shall not withhold.” We sin against each other not only by the bad things we do but also by the beautiful things we withhold. Withheld love is a life-depleting sin. It is a sin to tell ourselves, “I’m not doing anybody any harm.” The question is, what good are you withholding? Jesus withheld no good thing from you. Okay, now we know how to build a culture of life, by his power. A culture of life is where people love each other openly and eagerly with the love of Jesus. All around us are opportunities to breathe life into more people. We cannot do everything. But we can do something, for his sake. If we have the ability, they have the ownership. And we owe it today, not tomorrow.”
What good are you withholding today? Why not give it away for Jesus’ sake?