Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. – Luke 6:38
7 “But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them.
8 Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need.
9 Do not be mean-spirited and refuse someone a loan because the year for canceling debts is close at hand. If you refuse to make the loan and the needy person cries out to the LORD, you will be considered guilty of sin.
10 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
11 There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.
The Toddler’s Creed
If I want it, it’s mine.
If I give it to you and I change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks like mine, it is mine.” Anon
Two-year-olds believe the world revolves around them. The classic “Toddlers Creed” offers excellent insight into the mind of a two-year-old. They have trouble sharing anything that interests them, believing they are the world’s center and assuming everyone thinks and feels like they do. Their favorite word is “No.”
A Toddler’s motto is “me,” “I want,” and “I can.”
This period of a child’s life is often referred to as the Terrible Twos. It is hoped that through gentle teaching and patience, this phase will pass. But sadly, for many of us, it never did.
We are born selfish and tightfisted. We are, by nature, greedy, self-serving, grasping, and stingy. We seek to obtain and hold on to what we have.
There is a paradox to giving generously. This is not about loving your neighbor as yourself, with its wide and open application (Luke 10:29-37). It is much narrower and more restricted.
The Law of Moses is quite specific and focused regarding giving generously. This section is directed to your brother in need. Any question about its scope is answered: a brother is defined as a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman (Deuteronomy 15:12).
The Father limited the circle of those to whom the Israelites were required to give. This law did not apply to the poor outside Israel but to those within Israel.
There will always be poor people within the land; therefore, the Father commanded the Jewish nation in the Law of Moses: “You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:11). While believers today are no longer bound by the law of Moses, there are abiding principles that we take from it. The focus here is restricted unrestricted generosity.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” Putting it another way, it is fantastic to give away fish, but giving away your only fishing pole, is another matter entirely.
Reread the passage. It means what it says. It is past time to really think this through. We are to cultivate the habit of having restricted, unrestricted generosity. Within ourselves, we are to have the softness of heart and openness of hand.
The Father is quite specific. Sadly, we have perhaps conveniently overlooked this. If we are mean-spirited and refuse those we need, the Father considers us “guilty of sin” (Deuteronomy 15:9).
Let that sink in.
A materialistically oriented culture will condemn this law as foolish and unworkable. Many arguments can be marshaled against its implementation. However, such arguments need to include the theological orientation of the law.
Deuteronomy’s law was not driven by practicality or economic necessity but by God’s character. Justice and generosity were its hallmarks (Hall).
REFLECT & PRAY
Give someone a fish; you feed him for a day. Teach them to fish, and they will feed themselves.
Father how many times have I held back because of my own self-centeredness? My guess is without measure. Father, I want to be just like You. You demonstrated remarkable and undeniable softness of heart and openness of hand. How do we make this work? It is an individual matter. Seek wisdom and guidance from the Father.
Why do you suppose that churches most often have secondhand pianos? The answer is simple. We buy a new piano and put it in our home. We donate our old piano to the church and get a tax write-off.
Sadly, we often wonder and question, as did Israel, the Father’s love for us. We should be more concerned about our love for the Father. Malachi charges that we dishonor Him when we offer to God less than our best. These words reveal the Father’s outage at our outrageous behavior.
6 “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! “But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’”
10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.”
12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table.”
13 “You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the LORD,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept such offerings as these from you?” asks the LORD.
14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!”
We may grudgingly pay our taxes, but we do pay them.
Ponder for a moment. What does not belong to the Father God? When you correctly answer that question, you begin the journey of generous, restricted, unrestricted giving with the softness of heart and openness of hand.
Our heavenly Father is generous beyond measure. He wants us to become like Him.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you” (John Bunyan).
© Dr. H 2023