Saturday, December 24, 2011

Proverbs 28:27 commentary; giving to the poor, not hiding your eyes from their plight

27 ¶ He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

The Bible here promises that if you are generous to give to those who are less fortunate than yourself you will not lack what you need. This verse, written under the Law, to the inhabitants of the kingdom of Israel, promises a physical reward for a physical offering.

Christians, too, are told of the importance of generosity, particularly to their poorer brothers and sisters in Christ, and to all men in general.

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.

The Christian attitude toward giving is clearly preached by Paul as he talks to the Corinthian church.

2 Corinthians 8:10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

The context here is in helping poorer churches. In this context of Christian helping Christian Paul goes on to say;

2Corinthians 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. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

Notice how the early Christians lived in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

This is not about giving to the church organization so that the Pastor can have a new study or so that the basketball court can be under roof. This is about what a truly New Testament church should be doing for the poorer believers in its own congregation and for churches it is associated with that are going through rough times. A Christian church that spends money on new buildings and parking lots and yet has one elderly person in their midst without a family who can’t pay their heating bills is hardly worthy of being called a New Testament church. In fact, the Christians in Rome early on, at least, were known for being generous in feeding not only their own poor but the pagan poor as well.

Many Christians have expressed a belief that our country should be run this way if it is to be a Christian nation. However, the actions of the church are voluntary, in obedience to Christ, not peformed at the point of a gun. In any event, we have two huge issues in governance that would hinder the proper application of this on a national scale.

The first is in how the government throws money at people who refuse to work when work is available and feel that aid is owed to them by virtue of their race or ethnicity or for any other reason in order to gain their political support and vote.

2Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

The second is the largesse awarded to those who don’t need it in the form of tax breaks in order to get their political support and money.

Proverbs 22:16 He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Anyway, if you truly wanted to run the country Biblically you would first go to a person’s family to demand that they help them in their poverty before you threw it on the taxpayer.

1 Timothy 5:3 ¶ Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God……….16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

So, government taxation is an entirely different issue than Christian giving. We are told by Jesus Himself to pay our taxes faithfully as a testimony which even He did (read Matthew 17:24-27) but there is little comparison to be made between having your property confiscated so that a government agent can attempt to purchase someone’s vote with it and you giving out of a heart of love to help someone less fortunate then yourself. I will admit that some people have declared that they are happy to pay taxes if that will help others and that’s a wonderful attitude. But, again, taxation generally is by force of law and Christian giving is voluntary out of love. Not the same.

The Christian must remember that all of his money and personal possessions he has by God’s grace and kindness toward him so that all of his resources should be available for God’s use. The actions of the Christian should be voluntary out of an unfeigned love of the brethren, which is what the word “charity” means in 1 Corinthians 13. If it meant our day to day definition of charity then this verse would make no sense;

1Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

As God promises in this Proverb that the person who hides his eyes from the poor’s plight will suffer many curses under the Law, under Grace God promises us that if we are generous and bountiful in our giving that we will not suffer lack.

Philippians 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

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