Tag Archives: Sharing

The Source and the Purpose

The Source and the Purpose (CaD 1 Sam 30) Wayfarer

David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.”
1 Samuel 30:23-24 (NIV)

This past Sunday afternoon, Wendy and I were blessed to help host over 100 people for a backyard cookout along with one of our backyard neighbors. We grilled up a bunch of burgers and dogs and people brought sides and desserts to share.

Last night our home was invaded by about twenty or so high school sophomores and their three adult leaders. A few weeks ago we were asked if the young people could meet at our house on Wednesday nights during this school year. There was never really any question. We’re glad to have them. Wendy and I stuck around for a bit to be introduced to the kids before we sequestered ourselves. Wendy and I have talked about making Wednesday night a date night with some friends who have also volunteered their house for the Wednesday night youth gatherings.

In today’s chapter, David and his men return to their sanctuary town in Philistine territory having been told to do so by King Achish in yesterday’s chapter. While they were off mustering for battle a raiding party of Amalekites swept through, plundered their town, and burned it to the ground. The Amalekites also took all of their wives and children as captives. The first thing David does is consult the priest, Abiathar, to inquire of God whether they should pursue the raiding party. David is given the green light.

While they are in hot pursuit, about 200 of David’s 600 men become weary and choose to stay behind. The remaining 400 overtake the Amalekites, defeat them and return with everyone’s women, children, and all the plunder the Amalekites had taken on their raids.

At this point, the 400 men who completed the defeat of the Amalekites argue with David that the 200 men who stayed behind should not receive any of the plunder since they didn’t participate in the battle. David’s response is swift and strong. The victory, David says, belongs to the Lord, not to their military prowess. The plunder, therefore, is a gift from God and it is to be shared by everyone. David calls his men to think about their Level Three circumstances with a Level Four perspective.

Along my spiritual journey, I have slowly come to embrace the spiritual reality that everything I have belongs to God. Everything in my “possession” will be abandoned and left behind when this journey is over. Jesus is the Alpha point from which all good things flow and all the good things that have flowed into my life. Jesus is the Omega point to which all good things, including all the good things in my life, will ultimately return. I’m not an owner. I’m a steward. The belief that anything I have is really mine is an illusion.

This is why there was never really any question that Wendy and I would allow our home to be invaded every Wednesday night by a bunch of teenagers. We are so blessed with our house. It’s exceeding, abundantly, beyond what we could have once imagined. The story of building it is a God story that leaves us with no doubt that we were supposed to build it, that we were supposed to use it generously, and with it, we were to practice hospitality. It was built to be used, lived in, and shared.

This morning, in the quiet, I’m thankful for all of the blessings I enjoy including my wonderful home office where I sit and type these words, but I’m also thankful for learning to have perspective about the source of the blessing and what we are to do with it.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

(WW) Companions on the Journey Part 1

[WW] Companions on the Journey Part 1 Wayfarer

The Wayfarer Weekend Podcast features special guest Kevin Roose as we discuss being Companions on Life’s Journey (Part 1).

When Generosity Becomes Compulsory it Becomes Something Else

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

In today’s chapter, Paul continues his encouragement to the followers of Jesus in Corinth to be generous. Paul was specifically asking them to give to an offering that was being collected to support impoverished fellow believers in Jerusalem. Paul wanted all believers in Greece and Asia Minor to give so to help their fellow believers in Palestine and it was a significant personal undertaking that had social as well as economic implications. If believers in the “gentile” world gave to the predominantly Jewish believers in Judea then it could only help tear down the walls and prejudices between the two groups.

Yesterday morning Wendy and I were discussing Paul’s encouragement to generously give to their fellow believers in need. Our conversation deepened from the subject of yesterday’s blog post on generosity to the section of Paul’s letter about equality. Paul argues that those in plenty should give to those who have little so as to bring a level of equality between all.

The conversation between Wendy and me quickly meandered into the fact that the early church is often seen as a shining example of socialism. Based on the evidence, there is no doubt that the followers of Jesus in the first century, connected by a common faith, supported one another financially and were encouraged to do so. As our conversation progressed, Wendy and I surfaced what I believe are some important distinctions in the contemplation of today’s chapter.

The giving and sharing among early Christians was not uniform system but an organic one. It looked very different in varying locations and times. During my life journey I’ve personally become weary of the way our culture (the institutional church in particular) loves to turn everything into a repeatable, marketable formula. We love to try and package what Holy Spirit did at church A and market it in a cool new program so that churches B through Z can easily replicate the experience. It usually creates popularity but I rarely see it result in a replication of spiritual power.

I’ve learned that there’s a reason why God gives us wind as a word picture of Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit mysteriously blows here and quickly moves there. Holy Spirit waxes for a time in one place then inexplicably wanes. You cannot manufacture it or replicate it at will as much as we try.

Paul’s offering was never made compulsory. Money was not demanded of the believers in Corinth. Rather, they were encouraged to be generous and the decision of what and how much was to be sourced in their own hearts. I find this a critical distinction. In Paul’s paradigm each believer was to give as each believer determined and was led personally by God’s Spirit. Paul certainly gave a full court press of encouragement explaining that generosity was a part of spiritual maturity and provided examples of other believers giving. There were, however, no formulas or discussion of percentages of income. There was no larger governing authority demanding it of the Corinthians, nor were there material consequences to be doled out if they chose not to give.

This leads to a final thought. The giving and sharing between believers in the early church happened on a micro-economic level. This was a  relatively small societal sub-culture connected to one another by a loose system of communication and a common faith. It wasn’t an authoritative institutional system trying to provide for all of society. There was no governing authority compelling believers to pay a percentage of their wealth and income to be redistributed to others as that particular governing authority determined. My experience is that things which work on a micro-level in small groups, especially things which are spiritual in nature, are rarely successful at being systemized and institutionally applied at a macro-level across society.

I hope no one will read what I’m not writing this morning. I am not arguing for or against socialism as an economic or governmental construct. I’m not arguing for or against any economic or governmental system or another. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and thus we experience the never ending debate around our globe.

The conclusion my heart is coming to this morning is this: As a follower of Jesus, no matter what the societal economic system I find myself living in, generosity is an essentially spiritual act. My free choice and willing decision to give of what I have been given to others in need is, and should be, an act of loving kindness. What’s more, as a follower of Jesus the measure to which I give should be personally motivated by the measure of love and grace I have received from Christ Jesus.

As soon as my generosity becomes compulsory, it becomes something else.