This post, the third post in this series, focuses upon what the Bible says about the voluntary nature of charity. Here are the previous posts in this series.
- WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? / WHAT DID JESUS DO? –PART 1
- WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? / WHAT DID JESUS DO? – PART 2
What is the point of this series? The object here is to show that we do not fulfill the requirements of Christian charity by allowing our government to tax us and spend our money. That may fulfill the requirements of the Social Gospel or the latest buzzword for Christian Socialism, Social Justice, but the Bible requires personal charity.
Consider the following passage from the Book of Acts.
Acts 5:1-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
Lying to the Holy Spirit
5 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
Why did Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, dropped dead? Why was God displeased with them? Was it because Ananias and Sapphira had withheld a part of what they owned from the apostles? No. They did not sin because of greed or selfishness. Peter is quite specific. They sinned by lying, by pretending to be more generous than they actually were..
God wants us to give out the joy of giving.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Cheerful Giver
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows [a]bountifully will also reap [b]bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of [c]necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now [d]may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, [e]supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Are many of us cheerful givers? Don’t most of us give to charity out of a sense of duty? Perhaps, but who among us enjoys paying taxes? Anyone? Would even Jesus, our Lord, expect anything else? Where in the Bible does it say to pay your taxes cheerfully?
More readings on the Social Gospel and such.
- Charity (practice) (en.wikipedia.org): Included this article because of this section, Criticism.
- Bring back the social gospel (theguardian.com): Written at the beginning of the Great Recession.
- Uncle Sam and Social Gospel (csmonitor.com): Commentary on candidate George W. Bush’s “compassionate Conservativism”.
- The Law, the Gospel, and Social Justice (chalcedon.edu): Refutation of Socialism. Includes a discussion of the Social Gospel and social justice.
- Social Gospel and the American Working Class (americanhistory.oxfordre.com): This is an interesting summary of a book. It illustrates the topic is still current.
- Can the Churches Save the Cities? (prospect.org): 1997 discussion of government funding of “Faith-based activism”.