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Cheerfulness October 21, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in doctrine of distribution, Non-accumulation.
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So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”  – 2 Corinthians 9:7

2 Corinthians 9:7 is probably among the verses that come to mind when someone is considering the doctrine of distribution.  It certainly appears, at first blush, that if we are COMMANDED to give, that our giving would be “of necessity.”  This, it would seem, would be a trap door out of the obvious requirements of Luke 12:33.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, perhaps a brief consideration of Luke 12:33 would be in order here:

Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.”  – Luke 12:33

This is presented as a “category 2” command – something Jesus said to His disciples in a teaching context.  Jesus was giving His disciples – and us – specific direction regarding accumulated possessions.  The most literal understanding of this command is that we are to sell off our accumulated possessions and give the money to those who need it.  It does not restrict the amount of money we earn, nor does it require us to sell things we need.

I know this is a “hard saying.”  But what else can we conclude?  If Jesus doesn’t really mean “don’t accumulate,” then what exactly does He mean by this command?  What is He telling us to do?  And similarly, if Jesus would have wanted to forbid the accumulation of earthly wealth, how else could He have said it?

As I pointed out yesterday, this is not because Jesus wants us to live lives of deprivation and hardship.  He said He came to bring us abundant life (John 10:10).  The presumption is that those following Jesus are interested in eternal things:  eternal life, citizenship in an eternal kingdom, and eternal wealth. 

It is toward those objectives that Jesus taught His disciples some basic Kingdom truths with which we are all familiar (though sometimes we struggle with the implications) – that this life is temporary, and that the way to Life often runs counter to the “wisdom of this age.”  It also runs counter to the desires of the flesh.

Having said that, let’s consider those purposes in our hearts. 

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”  – 1 John 3:17

A relevant rhetorical question – obviously, the Apostle John sees this as prima facie evidence that the love of God does NOT abide in such a one.  It appears that this refusal to extend charity springs from a heart that is “shut up.”

This is, at its core, a love issue.  Do we love our “stuff” or do we love our fellow men?  With the visible increase on our streets of people with cardboard signs, can we honestly say we are unaware of these desperate needs?  With our attics and garages full of clutter, most of which we will never use, can we honestly say we don’t have the resources?

Today’s Action Step:  Review the action step from What Is A Doctrine? and identify an item or two that you would not have replaced.  Look on eBay or Craig’s List for a similar item and determine its dollar value. 

Imagine one hundred times that amount being deposited in your “heavenly bank account” and then answer this question:  If you were to actually sell the item and give the money away with the knowledge that you were pleasing the Lord, living in obedience, helping someone who truly needed help, and laying up treasure in Heaven, could you do so CHEERFULLY?

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