"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22 (NKJV)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week 27: The Man with Eight Tunics

John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." ~ Luke 3:11

John the Baptist paved the way for Jesus, calling people to repentance. And, of all the things he could have identified as evidence of true repentance, he focused on conduct related to money and possessions. If we have extra clothing and food, then we should share with those that don't have enough. Tax collectors and soldiers should not take more money, John said, than what they are legally entitled to. John 3:12-14. The message is clear: having faith in God and His promises changes how one accumulates and manages wealth.

Everything that we have is from God and belongs to Him. If we really believed that, then it would be naturally expressed in how we make money, give it away, save it and spend it. We wouldn't need any further instructions. In God's great wisdom and knowing that we are still works in progress, He gives us some specific guidelines. The tithe is one example. It's one thing to say that everything you have belongs to God, it's something else entirely to give the first ten percent of your income to His church. As we live out God's commands about money and possessions, our hearts turn towards God and our faith in Him grows. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:34.

For the next few weeks, The James 1:22 Project will focus on commands related to giving and caring for the poor and needy. John the Baptist gives us a good starting point. If you have more clothes or food than you need, share with those who have less than they need. This isn't a call to sacrificial giving. It's a call to give out of your surplus. It's "Giving 101."

A few times each year, City Lights, sponsors a "free day" for needy families in our community. Church members are invited to donate food and new and gently used clothes. A couple of incredibly diligent and gifted young women put in a lot of work behind the scenes getting things organized and recruiting helpers. It's a practical way for City Lights to help families in our community and a great opportunity to practice obeying this command.

It's a bit tricky to blog about giving. We're not supposed to announce our giving with trumpets to be honored by men. So, let me just make this confession. I had eight coats. Eight! A few of them I had received as gifts. One was an Army issued overcoat that hasn't fit me for about ten years. But, regardless of how I got them, I had eight coats hanging in my closet. We've been doing "free day" at City Lights for a few years. Christina and I have always made a donation, but it's never occurred to me to give away some of my surplus coats. My failure wasn't due to greed. I didn't really want all of those coats. Keeping them, rather than giving them away, was a result of neglect and thoughtlessness, pure and simple. The lesson for me this week is that I should be more mindful of the surplus that God has given me and more intentional about giving from that surplus.

1 comment:

  1. This "diligent woman" is so happy for your coat closet to get a trim.