Monday, April 20, 2009

Giving

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

One of the things that perplexes me when I read the Bible is I often don’t know what to take literally or simply as an illustrative parable. Just recently while reading Luke I pondered the story of the rich ruler who asked Jesus how to get into heaven, and was told to get rid of everything he had. I wondered, am I supposed to sell off or give away everything Jill and I have?

So I asked my friend Richard to lunch, he’s been reading the Bible far longer than me, and posed my question to him. He pushed back and asked if I though Jesus really meant for us to pluck out an offending eye or cut off an offending hand? Then he smiled and said he thinks sometime Jesus said things tongue-in-cheek to get a point across. Neither of us had a definitive answer for what Jesus really meant when speaking to the rich ruler, but we both hoped perhaps he was testing the man’s true desire to follow God’s wishes. That makes sense to me know, as in the same way God tested Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son.

Shortly after lunch I saw Linley and told her of my conversation with Richard. She asked me not to give away our cell phones or turn off our Internet and cable services. Now that was clearly tongue-in-cheek.

So I, as I often do when I can’t get an unanswered question off my mind, Googled the rich ruler story. After reading through a few sites I came across this version of what Jesus said to the disciples after the rich ruler walked away:

“There is no one who sacrificially gives for my sake that will not receive much more in this age, and in the life to come.”

Now to me that seems to answer my question. No, Jesus does not want us to give away everything we have. As Richard pointed out, we would then be ill equipped to care for our families and support our church. But yes, he wants us to give sacrificially; he wants it to hurt a little. Think about it, if what we give doesn’t hurt a little, or a lot at times, how can our giving really honor God when he has suffered the most in his giving to us?

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

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