“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” (Proverbs 3:27)
A biographer of J.S. Bach wrote that young Johann Sebastian discovered his brother had a special book of compositions by some of the more established composers of that day, such as Pachelbel, Froberger, Bohm, and Buxtehude, in his music cabinet. He wanted to borrow the book, but for some reason his brother refused. Perhaps brother Johann Christoph was reserving those pieces for his own study or performances and did not want his talented younger brother to perfect the works first. Johann Sebastian clearly coveted his brother’s book, however, and in the middle of the night, when everyone else in the house was asleep, he crept downstairs to sneak the anthology from the cabinet. He took it to his room and began to copy it by moonlight. It took him six months! Johann Christoph found out about it and promptly impounded the copied volume. Johann Sebastian did not get the book back until his brother died almost 25 years later.
When I first read this, my mind immediately went to the song “This Little Light of Mine.” It made me think of how we keep our faith to ourselves without sharing the “good news” we claim with others. Bach’s older brother withheld from him something that he greatly desired that was well within his ability to share. Are we doing the same with God?
Regarding this, author Whitney Daugherty writes: “Giving God’s good and perfect gifts means we deny ourselves and give people the love, goodness, and mercy of Jesus. Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to judge who is worthy of our love and generosity. Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to reject and ignore those who offend us. Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to demand the last word or to retaliate with anger. Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to refuse our forgiveness. Giving Jesus means we deny ourselves the right to withhold good. When we withhold good from people, we withhold God from them.”