by James A. Fowler
This aspect of Christian giving is seldom addressed. Paul writes in II Corinthians 8:13,14, "For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality-at this present time your abundance being a supply for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality..." Paul goes on then to quote from Exodus 16:18 concerning the provision of manna for the people during the Exodus, explaining that God's provision was such that everyone had enough to meet their needs. God provides enough for everybody! He is the God who is enough, the all-sufficient God, El Shaddai.
Some have questioned the equity of His distribution, because we have the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, those who have surplus and those who are starving. There are extreme economic variances. Is God to be blamed for that? He has provided enough for everyone! He has also given to man the freedom of choice which can be (and often is) selfishly exercised.
There are those who have set out to remedy what they see as the inequity among men. They act to politically and economically create an equality of wealth; equal wages, equal goods and possessions, equal opportunity, etc. But socialistic communism does not work! It does not take into account the fallen condition of mankind in sin, and the selfishness and greed that always works against equality in selfish mankind.
From the beginning Christianity began to introduce the "equalizing-factor" of Christian giving.
"...all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need." (Acts 2:44,45)
Some would refer to what is reported in these accounts as a "failed experiment in Christian communalism" or Christian communism. Instead, we see the initial attempts of the earliest Christian to implement the equalizing-factor in Christian giving. Perhaps they were overly idealistic in their attempts to have all things in common in a communal community, but the equalizing-factor can be implemented in other contexts as well, as Paul was encouraging the Corinthians.
"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them. ...abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land and houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostle's feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need." (Acts 4:32-35)
When the grace of God is flowing through Christians in Christian giving, the provision of God given to some can flow towards the needs of others. Supply can be directed toward demand. That does not mean that there will ever be absolute equality in the distribution of wealth in this sinful world in which we live. "The poor you always have with you" (John 12:8) But Christians, prompted by the giving God within, will recognize that God does not "play favorites." He is not a "respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). God does not intend for us to stockpile material "treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal" (Matt. 6:19). God intends for His provision to flow towards other's needs! The haves are to share with the have-nots. Supply is to be brought together with demand.
What a unique situation God has made available to us as Christians. In the midst of the inequities of a sinful world, God sovereignly arranges the opportunities whereby we can participate in the redistribution process, the equalizing-factor of Christian giving. Out of His provision He grants us the privilege of expressing His givingness unto His glory, thus providing the ultimate functionality and fulfillment of mankind.
©1999 by James A. Fowler
This is a sequence of articles. Though they were intended to be read in order, each article also stands alone. We've numbered them below so that you may choose to read them in sequential order.
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