Redistribution, Charity, and Changed Hearts

Acts 2:45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Sure sounds like redistribution, doesn’t it?  I’d like to assure you that it is…but not in the way you might think.

This is not a situation like when Donald Sterling was forced to sell the LA Clippers as punishment for racially insensitive remarks.  He was banned from the NBA and his wife went about selling the team to Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, for a record $2 billion.  Even at the end of it, however, there was something to gain (money) in exchange for ownership of the team (control).

The issue at stake in our Scripture today is not whether “those who had” ended up giving up something so that the have-nots could have a better life.   They did give something up.  But, it wasn’t a forced sale.  It was completely voluntary…out of a changed heart.

seek first*

Redistribution is only as good as the ones doing the redistribution and the motives they had for doing it.  If redistribution is charity—something that is beautiful and honorable and brings pleasure to God—then the voluntary nature is what makes it glorifying to Him. 

Why?  Because it’s clear we value God more than Money.

If the redistribution is coerced, however, then God is not honored at all. 

Why?  Because it says we value Money more than God who gave where He wanted so that we’d learn how to love and give like He does.

So why do some Christians jump on the redistribution bandwagon as if it’s biblical? 

I’d argue that they fail to see how anyone’s having control over someone else’s choices is slavery.  Charity leaves the choice and the beauty in the hands of the giver.  And God loves a cheerful giver!  Simply taking things from those who have for the purpose of giving to those who do not have is placing the control and the choice in the hands of the ones doing the taking.  When they give to those they want to have receive it, then they took away from God’s choice and acted as their own gods.

That type of control (coercion) over other people is to use power and fear to be another’s master.  It takes the beauty of cheerful giving as Image bearing of God and morphs it into the evil of slavery.  And finally, it often turns the act of receiving charity from grace and thankfulness to God…to something less.  Often, it becomes greed and envy cloaked as fairness.

When Redistribution arises voluntarily out of Charity and Changed Hearts, God gets all the glory!  Let’s bring glory to Him in our acts of charity, bearing God’s Image as graceful givers and thankful recipients.

Questions for pondering:

  1. If you are one who has been blessed by God with an abundance of possessions, what does this Scripture say to you?  Matthew 6: 19″Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
  2. Matthew 6:28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  What does God want for us to have as a priority?
  3. What light does this Scripture shed on how we use resources and how money enslaves?  Luke 16:9 “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on November 5, 2014

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