By Moishe Rosen

If you're old enough to remember the Saturday Evening Post as a

weekly publication, you probably remember the young men who solicited

door-to-door for magazine subscriptions. One of my friends had three

copies of the Saturday Evening Post delivered to his home every week.

His mother, a tenderhearted soul, had not wanted to discourage the

first young man who came to her door, so she had bought a subscription

from him. A couple of months later, another young man came along with

an even better story and an irresistibly cheaper subscription offer.

Finally his sister had encountered a third salesman, who so charmed

her that she decided she ought to have her very own subscription. No

one in that house really read the Saturday Evening Post, but they all

had bought the magazine from high-pressure salespeople because they

wanted to be nice.

I have always been sales resistant. I don't know if it stems from

being a child of the Great Depression, from my Jewish culture, or from

being born in Missouri, the "Show Me" state. Whatever the reason, I

learned at an early age to resist all high pressure and all

impositions except from those who had the right to impose on me --

parents, teachers and the rabbi -- and occasionally the next-door

neighbor. (He had the right to ask my brother and me to be quiet when

we got noisy.)

I learned to respond immediately to those who had the right to

ask anything of me with "Yes, sir" or "Yes, ma'am" and then to carry

out their request with dispatch. Still, coming from a poor home, I

learned to investigate the value and necessity of each purchase, and

being Jewish I also learned to ask, "Is this the right thing for me as

a Jew?" I also followed the maxim "If you allow it, people will walk

all over you." I figured that everyone had to protect himself against

all impositions.

Then I became a believer in Jesus, who seemed to teach that we

ought to let anyone impose on us any time. He said if anyone wanted

our coats, we should offer our cloaks also. But that didn't bother

me, since I didn't have a cloak, whatever that was. Jesus also said

if anyone asked us to walk a mile, we should walk two miles, and if a

person slapped us we should turn the other cheek, and we should

forgive those who used or abused us.

As a new Christian, I pondered those statements. Frankly, at

that point I asked myself how this whole thing made sense. After all,

if we let everyone use us or our services and take what we had, soon

we wouldn't have any time, energy or resources for God, ourselves or

anyone else. How could we ever accomplish anything or have anything

if we always let others impose on us and take what we had? Finally I

came to the only conclusion faith would allow: the Scriptural

injunctions were intensely practical and practicable, and I just had

to sort out what it all meant. If God said, "Give," I ought to give.

The questions were when, how much and to whom -- decisions that

entailed a high degree of responsibility on the part of the giver.

As I struggled with these questions, I came to several

conclusions: While most believers would give lip service to the adage,

"It's more blessed to give than to receive," few suffer from a habit

of overgiving. Through selfishness or a false sense of prudence, most

of us tend to undergive, and this hampers our spiritual and social

lives. Giving less of oneself or one's resources usually stems from

one of two flaws -- greed, or lack of confidence in God's provision.

Most people readily recognize greed as a destructive spiritual force,

but the second flaw, lack of trust, is more subtle. It hides under

various disguises like insuring family security and being judicious

and economically astute.

As followers of Y'shua and his teachings, we ought to be giving

people. While we are not under Old Testament Law, the Hebrew

Scriptures provide some very definite guidelines about giving and

receiving. In Bible times the rich were to look after the needs of

the poor. God commanded the Israelites to leave the borders of their

fields "unharvested." They were not to go back and retrieve what they

had missed during the first gleaning. For the poor, gathering those

remnants of a rich man's harvest was hardly a road to prosperity. A

person had to work very hard to glean just enough to fend off

starvation. God, through Moses, could have commanded the farmers to

harvest their entire fields and give a certain portion of the profits

to the poor. Instead, he ordered a system whereby the poor still had

to labor for what they received. Here we have an unspoken social

contract, and a concept that is reiterated in the New Testament, where

Paul admonishes, "if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2

Thess. 3:10).

God's provisions are like that. He gave the miracles of the

manna and the quail in the wilderness, but the Israelites had to stoop

and gather what he provided. They could not expect food to appear in

their eating bowls at mealtime, nor leave empty pots outside their

tents to be filled from heaven. They could not point their faces

skyward, with open mouths, like nestlings waiting for the mother

bird's predigested food.

You will not find the popular slogan "God helps those who help

themselves" in Solomon's book of wisdom, nor is it even theologically

correct. Those who say that really mean "I am justified in seizing

what I want for myself. God will help me if I take the initiative,

even if it means getting grabby." This mindset encourages greed

rather than trust in God.

Maybe we should rephrase that adage to say, "God helps those who

trust in his providence and are willing to participate with him in

receiving his help." I see this in the miracles of Scripture.

Through Elijah, God filled the widow's jars with oil, but first she

had to gather those vessels herself. At Cana Jesus turned the water

into wine, but the stewards at the wedding first had to fill the jugs

with water. God could have filled the jugs with wine the same way he

filled the widow's jars with oil, but he wanted the stewards to

participate. Again, Jesus could have produced instant loaves from

heaven to feed the multitudes, but he chose instead to multiply the

scant resources of a little boy's lunch.

God's provision usually involves the receiver's conscious self.

God wants us to be properly grateful, but he does not trample on our

dignity. We know that he gives to us materially and spiritually

because he loves us, and his love makes us people of value.

In trying to maintain the dignity of the poor and needy, modern

society often refers to them as welfare "clients." Such language

deters us from understanding and acting on their need because it plays

down their plight. The jobless, the hungry and the homeless are

desperate. There is never anything dignified about desperation, nor

should there be if it deters a potential helper from offering the

necessary aid. Desperation calls for immediate action. We tend to

respond more quickly to those in desperate straits, whereas we

deliberate longer about those who insist on maintaining their dignity.

False dignity is harmful, but real dignity enables a meaningful

relationship. Nevertheless, the concept fails if it camouflages a

person's plight and leads to disregard of his or her needs. We know

that God wants us to give materially to people according to their

needs, but we must also remember that participation in solving their

problems is part of their need. That is proper dignity properly met.

We should give of ourselves and our substance in such a way that the

receiver feels a sense of participation in solving his need problem.

One rabbi pointed out that the highest form of charity involves

giving a person the chance to earn what he needs. Thus he is not

shackled by a sense of worthlessness or feelings of obligation to a

benefactor he cannot easily repay. A frustrated sense of obligation

could lead the needy recipient even to despise the benefactor, who

becomes a constant reminder of that person's weakness.

In all of our giving we ought to embrace the true concept of

"charity," which is love in action. If we love the person who would

impose on us, we find it no burden or imposition to give. The key to

giving without feeling imposed upon is love -- God's love -- the

unselfish AGAPE love that he lavishes on us through Christ. He loves

us because of who we are. If we find our motivation for giving in him

rather than in ourselves, and our manner of giving according to the

way he gives, we will fulfill the law of love. Then no one will be

able to impose on us.

Jesus said, "Freely ye have received, freely give." What we have

received through God's love we ought to take joy in sharing with

others. This includes our time, our material possessions and our

knowledge of him because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts

by his Holy Spirit.

Reprinted from the "Jews for Jesus Newsletter," volume 3:5749

Computers for Christ - Chicago




OK! New Christian...What Now? | Bible verse for every letter of the alphabet.| Church History Summary.| The Christian Message.| Election. | Is Hebrews 6 a warning? | Seven Incontestable Questions. | Ironside: Agnosticism. | Issues Of The Heart - J. MacArthur. | Natural Laws and God's Laws. | Possession: The Devil Made Me Do It! | The Preisthood Of All Believers. | Why Jesus? | Knowing Why You Believe - Evidence - Bible. | Discussions With Unbelievers. | Inerrancy. | What Does It Mean To Be A Christian? | First Adam; Then Eve; then what? | What Will People Think? | Perfect For All Time. | Jesus Is Lord. | Spiritual Strength And Power. | The Biblical Calendar Of History. | Studying Your Bible. | Computer Analysis Of The Books Of The Bible. | Early Christianity - Is The Record Sound? | The Bible - The Most Popular Book. | Credentials Of The Bible. | Doomed - to Hell. | Faith And Works In The Plan Of God. | Others Can But You Can't. | Impositions - giving to God and by God. | Why Did Christ Die? | The Successful Christian - #1. | The Successful Christian - #2. | Is It What We Say Or What We Are? | Forty-day Bible Study. | Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation? | How To Overcome Sin - Charles Finney. Death. | Why We Reject This Version. | How Does God Keep His Promises? | Radical Genesis Evangelicals.

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