Friday, February 22, 2013

Jesus & Economic Life (7) Giving

Jesus expected his followers to give to those in need, and to lend not expecting to be repaid.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back (Luke 6:33-34).
Bad people are quite happy to lend, if they know they will be repaid, especially if they can earn interest. Jesus expected his followers to be different. They must lend to the poor expecting nothing in return. This was not a new idea. This was the Torah principle of interest free loans to the poor.

This giving should not be done out of obligation. It should be motivated by the love of God.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:35).
Those who love God will be merciful to be like him.

Jesus challenged his followers to feed people who were hungry.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me (Matt 25:35-36).
Followers of Jesus are expected to provide their neighbours with food, just as Boaz provided Ruth and Naomi with food by allowing Ruth to glean on his land.

Giving to the poor made economic sense.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matt 6:19-21)
Storing up treasure was impossible in Galilee and Judea. If the moths and vermin did not destroy it, the soldiers and tax collectors. Maybe the moths and vermin were a cheeky reference to the Romans and their tax collectors.

No comments: