"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Could This Be?

Today I stumbled upon a Scripture passage I've no doubt read dozens of times, but this time it grabbed me in a "Whoda Thought" sort of way.

(2 Corinthians 8:8-24 MKJV) (8) I do not speak according to command, but through the eagerness of others, and testing the trueness of your love. (9)For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor, in order that you might be made rich through His poverty. (10) And in this I give my judgment; for this is profitable for you, who began before, not only to do, but also to be willing a year ago. (11) But now also finish the doing of it, so that, as there was a readiness to will, so also the finishing, giving out of what you have. (12)For if the eagerness is present, it is acceptable according to what one has, and not according to what one does not have. (13) For it is not that others may have ease, but you trouble; (14) but by equality in the present time; your abundance for their need, that their abundance also may be for your need; so that there may be equality; (15) as it is written, "He gathering much, he had nothing left over; and he gathering little did not have less." (16) But thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. (17) For indeed he accepted the entreaty. But being more earnest, of his own accord he went to you. (18) And we have sent with him the brothers whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; (19) and not only so, but also he having been chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself, and as a witness of your eager mind; (20)avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us; (21) providing for honest things, not only before the Lord, but also before men. (22) And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved earnest in many things, but now much more earnest by the great confidence which I have in you. (23) If anyone inquires of Titus, he is my partner and fellow-worker for you, or of our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.(24) Therefore show them a proof of your love and of our boasting toward you in the presence of the churches.

If you're thinking, "Wow, that's a chunk of Scripture," I can relieve your mind; just one word struck me as peculiar: equality. Check verse fourteen again, "but by equality in the present time; your abundance for their need, that their abundance also may be for your need; so that there may be equality." Twice, the "E" word shows itself in that one verse. Searching the Modern King James Version produces only one other instance: Colossians 4:1, where the word defined a master's (employer's) treatment of his servants (employees). In both cases, the issue is distribution of funds in an equitable manner.

Odd, isn't it, that such a timely subject would receive such brief treatment in God's word? What subject generates more political and social slogans? What political hot button produces more angry reactions? What issue more starkly polarizes citizens behind party banners? Is the Bible simply not relevant, failing to deal with our current issues? The "Christian" answer to that question is a resounding, "Would you repeat the question please?"

Believers frequently complain that those in charge of their congregations fail to grant them adequate attention, privilege or position. "It isn't fair!" is the refrain for their song and dance. Yet, in the matter of giving, the very same snivelers will likely split hairs about tithing on their gross, versus their net income. They are entirely consumed with their "rights," failing to grasp the true Scriptural meaning of equity and fairness, that is, voluntarily sharing ones resources with those who have less.

If that refrain sounds familiar, it should. For many children, the second word out of their mouth is, "Mine!" (The first being, "NO!") And their first sentence is, "Not fair!" What does that say about the maturity level typical of today's pew-sitters?

Most little children and many church folks are like that … but not me! Charging me with such immaturity would be grossly unfair. Why, if someone were to level such a charge against me, I'd immediately demand a hearing on the issue. Head held high, I would stand before the Judge expecting complete vindication. He would raise His gavel and a resounding crack would echo through the universe. Then he would pronounce the words, "Guilty as charged."

"Huh?" I'd shake my head in unbelief and add, "I don't think I heard you right, Lord. Were you talkin' to me?"

The eternal One would answer, "Were you listening to me?"

My countenance would drop as I grasped the absolute truth of His verdict, and I would stare at the courtroom floor, unable to utter a defensive word. I am most certainly guilty! Guilty of putting myself first! Guilty of pouting when life seems unfair! Guilty of pointing the bony finger of condemnation! Guilty of postponing the good I know I must do! Guilty of posturing before a fallen world to gain their favor!

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty, of sin in the first degree!

Suddenly, I awaken, with my Savior standing beside me, His mighty arm resting gently upon my shoulders. With His other hand He wipes away my guilty tears. And His strong, gentle voice proclaims, "I see no sin in you, Jim. I see only my holy blood covering you as a mantle of perfect innocence. Remember when you gave me your sin-guilt? You are innocent of all charges."

Then I gaze up into His loving face and say, "But it's not fair to You, Lord. You, who had no sin, took my sin-guilt upon yourself. I can never live up to Your perfection … but with Your help, I will try."

"I know you will, Jim … you cannot live with the alternative."

Are your rights your highest priority? Are equality and fairness your standard for the way others treat you?

Think about it.

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