RELIEF Andy Hollifield 8-10-18
Acts 11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea:
I don’t really know why I haven’t written on this before. One thing that every one alive has in common is that at one time or another, for whatever reason, we have all sought it: relief. It doesn’t matter your age, social class, financial status, marital status, color of your skin, gender, spiritual condition, or anything else that we use to draw lines to differentiate ourselves from one another, we have all found ourselves in the position of needing relief from something that had us under pressure in a difficult circumstance.
The verse I listed above is the only time the word “relief” is used in scripture. The word relieve is used seven times. What is amazing is who it is used in reference to. Leviticus 25:35 says to relieve a poor brother even if he’s a stranger. Isaiah 1:17 says to “relieve the oppressed”. Three times in Lamentations it is used talking about relief for the soul. The only time it is used in the New Testament is in 1 Timothy 5:16 speaking of families having the responsibility of relieving the widows and churches are to “relieve them that are widows indeed” or those that have no family. The word “relieved” is used only one time in the bible in 1 Timothy 5:10 speaking of a widow who has “relieved the afflicted”.
There are 13 definitions of the word “relieve” according to dictionary.com. The first three are “to ease, alleviate, or free from pain, distress, anxiety, need, poverty, fear, etc… The fourth one is “to bring aid to”. One more that I want to mention is “to release (one on duty) by coming as or providing a replacement or substitute”. Looking at these definitions, you can probably see where this is heading can’t you? Before I get there, I want to mention a couple of things about the importance of “relief”. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress has been linked to the top six leading causes of death. It is also linked as a cause or contributing factor of everything from insomnia to the common cold and even cancer. The reason I even mention stress is because all of us have experienced it and when we do we need relief from it by rectifying or removing ourselves from the situation that causes it.
I have experienced a significant amount of stress in recent weeks because of working on vehicles. It is one thing when you do it as a hobby but another thing entirely when you must do it out of necessity. The time, financial, and need aspects only add to the need for relief. I have had a situation mechanically this week that should not have been near as complicated as it was but yet still drove me up a wall until I got it resolved. It was finally resolved with about 12 dollars in parts and an hour of work. That sounds simple but with all the aggravation leading to the solution it was a great relief to get it resolved and I am definitely thankful.
I do not mention this for sympathy but only to illustrate my point. A lot of situations are not that easily resolved in our lives. A lot of folks fill the position of caregiver for someone due to illness or disability and that is a long-term commitment which always leaves the one with the big, generous, caring, heart in need of relief. One important thing to know about giving relief is that any relief you can give is better than nothing and helps, if even just emotionally and temporarily. The need for relief is why we watch movies or go for recreation, and play or listen to music just to ease the pressures of life occasionally.
In the verse listed above, each man gave according to his own ability. This was speaking financially for relief of their brethren. Another thing that we all have in common is that Jesus lived and died for the relief of our sin penalty. After the fall of man in the garden of Eden, man had no means of relief and has always been subject to the consequences of sin. Fellowship that Adam once enjoyed with the Lord had been broken by sin and was without remedy until Jesus came. A blood sacrifice was required to bring forgiveness of sin and restore the broken relationship between God and man. Jesus was the only “perfect” sacrifice that could serve as our substitute paying our penalty. In short, we needed relief and a search was made in heaven and earth and beneath the earth for a worthy, acceptable, sacrifice for our sin and none was found except Jesus (Revelation 5). He volunteered to be the sacrifice and relieve me from the penalty of death for my sins. I will still one day depart out of this life either by physical death or the rapture but I will never have to pay the penalty of death and eternal separation from God because of my sin. I’m not perfect but Jesus is and “he ever liveth to make intercession for” me (Hebrews 7:25). He purchased with his blood the forgiveness I could never obtain for myself and provided relief from my penalty.
The relief that we experience in different situations only last until the next problem arises. Although I was greatly relieved to finally get my mechanical problems resolved, the relief will only last until the next malfunction, then the stress starts over. I am thankful that my salvation by Christ and the forgiveness of my sins isn’t that way. The relief he provided to my soul will last throughout eternity without end. One thing that I take great pleasure in thinking about is that when I draw my final breath if I go by way of death, I will never again have to be bothered by Satan. When I leave this life, he will have done all that he can ever do to me. He will never, ever, ever, again be able to cause me grief or trouble. What a relief! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!