I Have Two Coats, My Neighbor Has None… Now What? Part One
Scripture often talks in specifics that seem to be examples of larger principles. For instance the principle of the Sabbath Year (Deut. 15, Leviticus 25) is a picture of the open-handedness we ought to have toward the household of faith. The surrounding passages speak to addressing basic needs of the foreigner among us. These passages are a strong call to compassion and often end with: “I am the LORD your God.” The way I understand that is, “I have shown you mercy, now you go show it to others.”
So, how far should we go with merciful acts? How about a couple examples (among dozens) of New Testament passages that shed some light on the subject. John the Baptist told people in Luke 3:11 that if they had two shirts to give one to the neighbor who had none. I’ll bet having two shirts was extravagant in that day. I don’t think John would walk into the 21st Century and tell us that we should only have one shirt and it was to be the one we were wearing. That’s not to say that our giving should not cause us some loss, as it isn’t a sacrifice of thanks if it has no value to you. If we have abundance and encounter need, we are to be open-handed. Don’t give the worn out running shoes that stink up the closet, but the good pair that you can do without.
The Apostle John in 1 John 3 opens the door a little further when he says in verse 17 that if I have worldly goods and my brother has needs, yet I close my heart toward him, I should question whether God’s love abides in me. 1 John is full of “evidence passages” - 3:14 – We know that we have passed out of death into life because of our love for believers. I have always been captivated by the Gospel correspondence between John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 - here saying that He (Jesus) laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our very lives for other believers. That is passing along the love of Christ as shown to me.
So what does this mean for us practically? Part Two will be posted on Friday.
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