Returning to the point that Paul was unwilling to command ‘giving’ let’s do a bit more unpacking: “. . . see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command . . .” (2 Cor. 8:7-8) He then goes on to note that Christ became poor so that Christians can become rich and implies we ought to mimic this (2 Cor. 8: 9 – 10). That he does not command this is no surprise since only several verses later St. Paul states, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). If Paul commanded it, the giving would be under compulsion; if Paul commanded it, it would no longer be gracious giving but obligatory paying–it would be difficult to call obligatory paying an “act of grace” (2 Cor. 8:6). The point is that we should give because we want to–not because we have to–and we must recognize that mimicking Christ requires such “willing giving.” Everyone who names themselves a disciple cannot say, “But what if I don’t want to?” Certainly we may feel like this from time to time but, in such cases, we pray, give thanks, and renew our view to our Master, the Christ, Jesus our Lord. Notice, Paul’s logic: “for God loves a cheerful giver.” And if God loves this and we love Him then we are inclined and desire to please Him (as our loving Father), approve cheerful giving (as God does), and enjoy seeing other do the same (just as God does and loves seeing us do). It follows, then, that fellow Christians who are able to provide are not entitled to ignore the needs of fellow Christians. But needful fellow Christians cannot covet and demand, only receive. Those rich Christians are not entitled to give begrudgingly or out of compulsion, only freely and cheerfully “for the Lord loves a cheerful giver.” Accordingly, those Christians who have not cannot compel those Christians who have to give–or else giving would no longer be giving (Rom. 4:4). All of these Christians, whether Christians who have or those who have not, places them solely before the throne of the Lord Jesus: how should I act, as a Christian, as I relate to the Lord? This is the first and most important question inasmuch as the Greatest command has preeminence (Love the Lord with all mind, soul, strength).
09 Saturday Nov 2013
Josh Dempsey said:
You’re arguments in this series are logical and seem well drawn from Scripture, not merely principles based in Scripture. They raise, however, practical concerns that are difficult to wrestle with. I’m thinking of these things not simply based on money, and in the following example not necessarily giving to the “poor,” but based on your understanding of wants vs. needs. Here is an example: It is close to Christmas, and the members of my family expect me to give them gifts. I could, however, decide not to celebrate on the grounds that it is a pagan holiday “cleansed” by the Church and pointing only in a forcibly designed way to Christ. I could argue that my gift giving will be at my own discretion so that I may do it cheerfully and in response to the love of Christ. If my family is disappointed because I did not give them Christmas presents, are they then guilty of covetousness? If the answer to this is yes, is not then the want of all Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, etc. covetousness also?