Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sweet Charity

I have been hearing from a lot of Christians lately that surely this world must be coming to an end because of all of the depravity that they see around them. First of all scripture tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5 (as well as elsewhere) that the exact time of the second coming of the Lord is not known. So, why the speculation? I think it is because some believe that certainly God would want to get us (Christians) out of such a calamitous environment. It has just become too overwhelming to deal with. Secondly, the vileness that is going on in the world is nothing new Ecclesiastes 3 shows us that. It only seems that way to us because, again, it is too staggering to deal with. No, I don't think Jesus is coming anytime soon; especially while his people are being so disobedient.

The calamity is not in the evil of those around us, it is in our own villainy. We have become egotistical as Christians and we feel we are entitled to everything we have. Not only that - if someone else doesn't have as much as we do, then that is there own plight. We have the Marie Antoinette 'let them eat cake' mentality. I have a feeling God is appalled by that.

There was a good reason that Jesus came to earth not as a wealthy or even a middle class citizen, but as a poor man. He was a carpenter by trade. He worked with his hands. There is a good chance that he went periods of time without work because there was no need for a carpenter at that time or the project that he was working on was finished. He would probably have to wait for a while or travel to another town to find work. Do we think he was lazy? Not making good choices in his line of work? Maybe he should have used his talents in a different way. Then he may not have had to rely on the kindness of strangers or charity to fill in the gaps in his employment. I think not. Assuredly we would not fault Jesus for working in a low paying, physical labor job; so why do we find fault with those around us who make the same choice?

If you take a good look at scripture it clearly tells us that we are to take care of the poor among us. It shouldn't take governmental mandates in order for us to be generous. We should give freely knowing that the laws of reciprocity will surely be in our favor down the road. We never know what life situation we may find ourselves in some day. I know I don't want to be in a position to help someone right now and refuse, only to find myself on the receiving end of the charity next year and have someone deny me help.

Of course we shouldn't assist others out of fear or guilt. We should do it because correct thing to do - because Jesus told us to.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 - 7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 89 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.

Proverbs 21:13 - 13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,
he too will cry out and not be answered.

Matthew 19:21 - 21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

2 Corinthians 8:7-10 - 7But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower