Saturday, September 17, 2011

Proverbs 25:14 commentary; false gift? or is it real?

14 ¶ Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.

There are some interesting ways to look at this verse in application to the Christian. One is that the person who brags about giving he did not do is like a sky that promises the relief of rain but produces nothing. This would be along the line of what commentator John Gill said in the 1700’s. But, in today’s Christianity there is another, more startling interpretation. There are several denominations of Christians who claim to have certain “gifts” that others claim through Biblical study died with the Apostles. For instance, there are people who claim to speak in a special, heavenly language either openly in the congregation or privately in prayer. They call this the gift of “tongues”. However, this doesn’t appear to be Biblical because wherever tongues are mentioned it is a reference to an understandable human language, if not the physical organ in the mouth.

Genesis 10:5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

Genesis 10:20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

Acts 2:7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

The specific reference many of these people use is this one;

1Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

This is the only point of argument. Is this a reference to a real and unique language that the appearances of God, men, churches, or countries, which is what an angel is, use? Each time an angel speaks in the Bible it is in an intelligible language. The gift spoken of in Acts is clearly, in context, the ability to speak other human languages for the purpose of spreading the Gospel, without having been taught those languages in the normal way. If the person claiming to speak in a special tongue is faking then this would be a false gift, if he or she is not then it would be a remarkable thing to be able to speak the gospel in, say, Tibetan, without having learned it. Of course, the Bible requires that someone who can interpret the unknown tongue independently be there. If the speakers are real, then it is an amazing thing, and let’s praise God for it. If they are liars then they certainly fit this verse. If you have this gift why aren’t you on the mission field either overseas or in the ethnic neighborhoods of this country? Could it be that this gift points attention at you, which is what you really desire? I can’t judge you nor can I limit what God can do or will do. Just examine yourself carefully. A great deal is at stake.

Then there is the “gift” of healing which many of us, like myself, believe died with the Apostles, and I don’t mean the Popes or Brother Love down at the First Church of the Feel Good. If this isn’t a false gift, like clouds and wind that promise rain, then why isn’t Benny Hinn down at the cancer ward of the children’s hospital healing those poor, little bodies? Why doesn’t he submit his healing ministry to the examination of the Mayo Clinic or some such institute for further study? Of course, Evander Holyfield’s “miracle” cure of a heart defect by Benny Hinn begs the question; is this for real? If it is, praise God. That’s wonderful. Benny, get down to the Shriner’s Hospital or Johns Hopkins right now. You’ve made your millions. People need help.

If, on the other hand, it isn’t real, if it’s fake, once again we have wind and clouds, but no rain. I suppose I’ll find out on the other side of Glory.

Moving closer to home, you have many young people who claim to have the gift of preaching. They say that God has called them to the ministry to preach. When the building business was going great guns I had a manager of a modular home sales lot ask me why I thought about half of his applicants for sales positions had been in some type of ministry they felt they had been called to but it had folded. I told him that sometimes God wants us to wait until His timing is right for our call to service so these men’s run wasn’t over yet, that sometimes we have an ambition to do something for God so we think God has called us to it mistakenly, and, finally, that all Christians are called to a ministry of some sort and if you have been called to preach then God will open the doors for you to do so and it may be a start and stop sort of thing for awhile until God puts you where He wants you so don’t lose hope. It’s not a career opportunity like Petroleum Engineering where you plot out your college and the churches you’ll apply to. If God isn’t in it, you’ll wind up being a car salesman. Be faithful, hang in there, God has something in store for you. You might be a car salesman until the church God is preparing for you is ready. Anyway, Paul made tents. There is nothing wrong with working full time and preaching as well. But, if it’s a false gift and you’re bragging about how you’ve been called to preach when you haven’t, you’re like wind and clouds with no rain.

The worst bragging of a false gift of all, is to claim to have been saved and to have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in your body, only to live carnally and worldly, without any hope of drawing men and women to Christ, either through carnal, fleshly living like drinking and hanging out at bars and profane language or in fake spirituality, going to church every time the doors are open, carrying your KJB under your arm, saying all the church words but harboring nothing but fear, paranoia, and hate in your heart, expecting God to give you a special deal. You be physically faithful and He better treat you right.

If that’s you’re attitude then you, too, are bragging of a false gift and are like clouds and wind with no rain. So much of modern Christianity is like that; just empty words and shallow deeds, another excuse for some to feel better than others not like them.

Lest I’ve injured someone’s feelings let me point out that the only condemnation that comes from this verse and what I’ve written concerns whether or not your professed gift is true or false. Perhaps only you and God know the answer to this. But, beware of boasting, anyway. It carries with it a whole other spiritual problem. There is a difference between confidence and faith, versus presumption and boasting.

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