Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Proverbs 19:22 commentary

22 ¶ The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

If a person has any virtue in him at all then he is driven to be kind and generous; he does not regard his wealth and possessions as his own rather but God’s, and what he keeps for himself as the provision of God’s mercy and grace toward him. But, as Matthew Henry points out it is better to have nothing but have a heart to give than to have much but be lacking in heart. It is better to be that poor man who wishes to give than one with much but lies about his giving or ability to give.

Several principles are found here. One is in the letter from James, a letter where “putting your money where your mouth is” and “walking the walk not just talking the talk” are main points.

James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Here, we see that words without action mean nothing.

Tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament doctrines for the Christian. No one is ordered to take their pay check and give exactly ten percent of it to the church organization or for charity. What you are called to do is to give whatever God has laid on your heart and do it with a joyous heart, happy to be of service. There is no duty or guilt trip involved with Christian giving from a Biblical standpoint unless you should feel guilty for writing a check with your tongue to make yourself look good that your heart had no intention to cash.

2 Corinthians 9:6 ¶ But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

The context of this verse is about the church at Corinth helping other churches who are suffering. The church body at Corinth was a wealthy church, but a carnal one.

John Gill says that a good man is desirous of wealth in order that he may have it in his power to help others. That man, according to Gill, when he has wealth looks for ways to help others. But, the worse thing in this is if a person with wealth claims that he doesn’t have the ability to help others when he does. By inference, that man is wicked and undeserving of God’s mercy and grace.

Furthermore, the rightness or wrongness of an act is sometimes based on its intention. Notice the poor widow in Luke 21:2. I have noted previously that Dr. Samuel Johnson, the most quoted man outside of the Bible in the English language after Shakespeare, said,

“The morality of an action depends on the motive from which we act. If I fling half a crown to a beggar with intention to break his head, and he picks it up and buys victuals with it, the physical effect is good; but, with respect to me, the action is very wrong. So, religious exercises, if not performed with an intention to please God, avail us nothing. As our Savior says of those who perform them from other motives, 'Verily they have their reward.'"

The point of this Proverb applies, I believe, to all ages of mankind in their dealing with God. A man or woman with a right heart looks for ways to give to help others.

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

(This is not about taxes. This is about private giving. Christians must obey the law and pay their taxes. You can see Christ’s attitude about paying taxes in Luke 20:22-25, even unfair ones in Matthew 17:24-27. Taxes aren’t charity, they are a lawful duty and requirement. We should demand that tax money be used appropriately and without waste and unnecessary spending but the power to tax is the power to govern, it has been said many times. God is concerned with a heart issue here regarding money. We should never let demagogues and mountebanks question our responsibility to help people less fortunate than ourselves by confusing the issue of paying taxes and providing a social safety net that is just and sustainable by saying we have no social responsibility to help the poor. On the other hand we should reject all efforts by any political party to use the poor or entitlements as a way of building a voting bloc of guaranteed votes. The issue is not and should never be, “should we help the poor, the elderly, and the sick” but rather how should we help them and to what degree. The speaker who says you have no responsibility to them is as much deceived as the one who says if you disagree with how it’s done you have no heart.)

So back to the Proverb. Again, it is better to have a heart to help, to give, but be too poor to be of much use than to be wealthy and claim you can’t or promise you will but don’t.

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