Saturday, February 28, 2009

Punishment as Deterrence: Dt 17:12-13

"The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again." (Deuteronomy 17:12-13)
The Hebrew word here for "presumptuously" means "arrogant". It refers to one who arrogantly and presumptuously refuses to obey the law, knowing full well the demands it places on him or her.

There are many purposes for the use of punishment in the establishment of justice, such as incarceration to protect the public, the reform of the offender, and the exaction of a punitive debt. In this scripture, God identifies another purpose for punishment: deterrence. Among its other purposes, punishment is designed to deter others who would be tempted to commit the same offense against the law. For punishment to properly operate as a deterrence, two things are necessary.

Punishment must be public. "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning." (1 Tim 5:19-20) This does not mean that executions should be televised or that public floggings should return to the public square, rather simply that justice should not be practiced in private and/or hidden from the public eye. In many modern societies today the media provides this service; providing public "access" to the society's judicial system and process. If the public cannot "view" the the wheels of justice as they turn, then its process and punishment will offer little or no deterrence to transgressions of the law.

Punishment must be timely. "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil." (Ecclesiastes 8:11) For punishment to offer deterrence, a society's citizens must perceive that it is the inevitable and timely consequence for transgressions. When judgment is delayed, then its value as a deterrence is diminished. Even in the case of capital punishment, where the time between crime and execution can sometimes be over ten years, capital punishment looses its value as a deterrence. Punishment must not only be certain, but it must also be foreseeable.

David Robison

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Supream Courts: Dt 17:8-10

"If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the Lord chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you." (Deuteronomy 17:8-10)
While in every city judges and officials were to be established for the dispensing of justice, God also provided for the appeal of difficult cases to higher courts. The appeal to a higher court was not to provide the condemned with a second chance at acquittal, but rather to provide an appeal relating to the execution, interpretation, and application of the law. In this passage difficult cases were appealed to those vested with greater wisdom than may have been common among the lower judges and courts. Specifically, those whom had a more accurate understanding of God's law, His intentions behind the law, and His will in applying the law. The same is true in our day. Often laws are passed by legislatures that are vague, ill conceived, of poorly defined as to how they may apply in different circumstances. For this reason we have higher courts that can provide further interpretation and proper application of the law as it may be applied to some difficult circumstances and/or to situations not previously envisioned by the legislature. What is also of note here are the types of cases that are enumerated in this scripture.

Homicide or literally blood or bloodshed. Of key concern is the proper distinction "between blood and blood" (Darby) or the delineation between different degrees or murder, manslaughter, or wrongful deaths. "But if he pushed him suddenly without enmity, or threw something at him without lying in wait... then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the blood avenger according to these ordinances." (Numbers 35:22, 24)

Lawsuit or literally plea or judgment. These cases refer to the oppression and denial of rights to one citizen, or class of citizens, by another. "I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor." (Psalms 140:12 KJV)

Assault or literally stroke, plague, or wound. These cases would include actions that lead to a personal loss by the victim. For example, slanderous accusations that would injure the reputation, standing, and stature of an individual. It could also relate to cases of personal injury. "A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away." (Proverbs 6:33 KJV)

Dispute or literally a contest. These cases would involve any kind of dispute arising out of a disagreement between two parties. These types of cases seek a judgement between two opposing parties as to which is in the right and which is in the wrong. "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him." (Proverbs 18:17 KJV)

David Robison

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Justice by Fallen Men: Dt 17:6-7

"On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst." (Deuteronomy 17:6-7)
There exists in most people an innate sense of justice; a desire to see the guilty punished and the wronged recompensed. This sense of justice and fair play is rooted in our creation; in that we have been made in God's image. God is a God of justice and we, as those made in His image, not only share in His desire for justice but also participate with Him in establishing His justice upon the earth. This is why cultures and governments around the world, even those who may not acknowledge God nor His laws, have established judicial systems to ensure justice and to punish those who transgress the standards and principals of equity as understood by those societies. Unfortunately, while we have been made in His image, it is, in many ways, a fallen image.
"According as it is written, There is not a righteous [man], not even one; there is not the [man] that understands, there is not one that seeks after God.All have gone out of the way, they have together become unprofitable; there is not one that practises goodness, there is not so much as one... for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:10-12, 23 Darby)
While we were made in God's image, sin has tarnished that image. If you look hard enough you can still see remnants of it, but its purity has been lost. That is why God placed safeguards within the process of Justice. Knowing the nature of man, God knew of his propensity to pervert justice, and sought to institutionalize protections within the judicial system of Israel to minimize the sinful tendencies of fallen men. This scripture identifies two such important protections in the procedural dispensing of Justice.

First, the penalty of law, in this case capital punishment, was not to be imposed based on the testimony of a single witness. John records that, "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19 NKJV) Jesus also teaches us concerning the wicked one, "Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44) Knowing this, it shouldn't surprise us when people lie, even in a court of law, even when the lie could lead to a grouse miscarriage of justice and to a severity of punishment that would include even death. While one made in the image of God should not lie, fallen man does, and because of this, guilt and punishment should not be determined based solely on the testimony of one person. The greater the corroboration of testimonies, the greater the assurance that truth will be determined and justice decided.

Secondly, justice should never minimize the role and participation of the victims or the witnesses. In this case, the witnesses of the crime, those whose testimony lead to the judgement of death, were to participate in the execution of that punishment; they were to cast the first stones. It is easier to lie when the consequences of that lie do not effect you personally. The greater the separation from the lie and its unfortunate consequences, the less it pains the lier. However, if when one lies in court they are made to participate in the execution of the judgement rendered by their lie, it gives greater pause and allows time for their conscience to intervene and for that remnant of the image of God to rise up and challenge the perjurer to do the right thing.

It is unfortunate that in my country, the United States of America, that our system of justice has almost completely removed the witnesses and victims from any personal attachment to the process of justice. While victims and witnesses may testify, they do so at the request of the state. In most cases, the state is perceived as the real victim in the trial, after all, it was their law that was violated, and if one is found guilty, their fines and punishment are paid to the state not to the true victim, that is, the one truly injured by the criminal offense. I believe that our country needs to reevaluate many aspects of its criminal justice system and restore the victim and witness to their proper place in the procedures of justice.

David Robison

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Death to the Infidels: Dt 17:2-5

"If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death." (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)
We have heard Christian missionaries depict the hostile attitude taken by other nations against the Gospel of Christ and against Christianity. For example, there are many countries that are closed to the Gospel and expel anyone attempting to preach Christianity. In other countries Christian missionaries have faced threats, harassment, and even death for preaching the Gospel. And in some countries, if someone does convert to Christianity, they are targeted for excommunication and even death; often at the hands of their own family members. As people living in the west, it is hard for us to understand cultures that appear to be so afraid of outside influences and who do all in their power to isolate themselves from what they see as corrupting ideas and influences. To us, they seem out of step with the rest of the world while, to them, we are the infidels, the apostates, the agents of evil.

Before we become too harsh in our assessment of them, we must remember back to a time in our own religious history, when those who departed from serving God, or advocated the worship of foreign Gods, were tried, judged, and stoned to death. Ancient Israel had a "no tolerance" policy for other religions. As a nation, they had one national religion, and heresy was a capital offense. Even in the early days of the United States, some of the original thirteen colonies also punished heretics with death.

While there are many religions around the world that advocate such treatment and punishment of infidels, Christianity is different. The laws instituted by God for the Nation of Israel has as its purpose the preservation of the fidelity, truth, and obedience of Israel. The goal was to eliminate outside influences that could tempt the Israelites from their service and devotion to God to serve and follow after another. God knew that they were susceptible to outside influences and temptations, that is why He set forth laws to cleanse such temptations (and tempters) from the land. So what has changed with the advent of Christ and why do we not (or should not) persecute heretics nor execute holy war on infidels? The answer has to do with the fact that we are so easily defined.
"'If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?' And the priests answered, 'No.' Then Haggai said, 'If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?' And the priests answered, 'It will become unclean.'" (Haggai 2:12-13)
Our natural progression is always downward, never upward. Left to ourselves, we naturally trend towards the carnal, foolish, and evil forces in this world. Even when surrounded by Godly influences, the natural inclination of the flesh is to draw away from God and towards the appetites of the world. Even though the Israelites had God's pure and perfect law, it was not enough to save them from their own sinful natures. When it comes to the enticements of sin, the law is too week to save us.
"For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect)." (Hebrews 7:18-19)
While the law was good and perfect, it could not keep us from sin and from the influences of the world. Then came Jesus. What I find most fascinating about Jesus is that He was not defiled by the world and those around Him. There is the story of the woman who had the issue of blood.
"And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, 'If I only touch His garment, I will get well.'" (Matthew 9:20-21)
By Jewish law, Jesus would have become unclean when the woman touched Him, but instead, He simply turned to her and pronounced her healing, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." (Matthew 9:22) Something has changed in Jesus where we are no longer enslaved to the temptations and influences of the world, rather we are able to resist them and to live in a way that is pleasing to God. We have exchanged the law and its weakness for something that has real power.
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:2-4)
Jesus was not defiled, not because of some new law, but because of the life that was inside Him. His righteousness did not flow from an external law but from an internal and incorruptible life inside, and if we have received Jesus, then we too have this life inside us.
"For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live , but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:19-20)
Thanks be to God who had freed us from the law and given His life to us that we might truly live. This is our hope that, even in an evil and perverse world, we can still overcome by His life. "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

David Robison

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Justice and Judges: Dt 16:18-20

"You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (Deuteronomy 16:18-20)
Justice is one of the primary responsibilities of government. Even before Israel had a King, they had Judges whose function was to adjudicate disputes and dispense justice. It is not enough for a government to form laws, or even to provide executives to enact and enforce those laws, it is also incumbent upon good governments to establish a system of justice where wrongs and harms can be examined and just remedies administered. This type of justice is what Noah Webster called "Distributed Justice".
"Distributed justice belongs to magistrates or rulers, and consists in distributing to every man that right or equity which the law and the principals of equity require; or in deciding controversies according to the laws and to principals of equity." (Noah Webster 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language)
This passage teaches us several things about distributed justice as it is to be exercised by good governments.

Justice should be accessible. "in all your towns" (Deuteronomy 16:18). Judges, officials, and courts of justice were to be established in each town in Israel. I believe, in part, that this was to ensure that justice would always be accessible and within reach of every citizen of Israel. It is important for governments to ensure that those who have ligament reason to petition for justice and redress should have ready access to the institutions and officials that are empowered to dispense such justice. When justice is unavailable, either because of distance or other unreasonable obstacles placed to bar people from presenting their cases, then justice is repressed.

Justice should be contextual. "appoint for yourself judges" (Deuteronomy 16:18). Judges were to be appointed from among the people they were to judge. This is important to ensure not only the proper dispensing of the remedies provided by law, but also for ensuring that equity is afforded and applied to all and in all situations. Noah Webster defines "Equity", as it relates to jurisprudence, as, "The correction or qualification of law, when too severe or defective; or the extension of the words of the law to causes not expressed, yet coming within the reason of the law." (Noah Webster 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language) Those best suited to apply the law to the lives, situations, and circumstances of those being judged are those who share the same life, situations, and circumstances.

Justice should be free. "you shall not take a bribe" (Deuteronomy 16:19). Justice is a corrective action that provide benefit to those whom have been wronged or harmed. The benefit of justice flows to the one petitioning the court and not to the one who presides over the court. When the judges or officials stand to benefit from their decisions, then justice is easily turned away. This is why God said, "You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just." (Exodus 23:8)

Justice should be blind. "you shall not be partial" (Deuteronomy 16:19). The Hebrew term here for "partial" means literally to "scrutinize or look intently at". The implication is that justice should not be based upon the outward appearance or state of a man. Justice should not favor the rich, the handsome, the powerful, or the strong. A person's deservedness of justice is not based on any of these factors, rather it is due to their intrinsic value as a person; as one made in the image of God.

David Robison

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Traditions and Memorials: Dt 16:3-12

"You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt... You shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt... You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes." (Deuteronomy 16:3, 6, 12)
This passage describes the three feasts that the Israelites were to observe annually. "Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed." (Deuteronomy 16:16) These feasts were to be more than mere traditions, they were to be memorials of what God had done for them and for their ancestors. They were to be remembrances of the goodness of God.

Isaiah warns that our worship of God should never become reduced to sheer observances of tradition. "This people draw near with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is removed far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught of men" (Isaiah 29:13 Darby) The New American Standard translation renders this passage, "their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote". Much of what has become tradition to us was at one time a memorial to what God had done, yet our connection to the memory has become lost and the significance of the memorial totally forgotten. When any part of our worship of God becomes void of meaning and significance, it assumes the form of tradition; rituals learned by rote.

God does not want us to exercise mere tradition; a form of worship devoid of its power. Rather, God wants our hearts, minds, and souls to be connected with our worship. It does no good to hold to traditions if our hearts are removed from God. Worship requires our heart's connectedness to the Father. Worship is not what we do by rote, rather it is a whole hearted expression of our love, reverence, and awe of God. Let us leave behind traditions and experience afresh whole hearted worship of God. "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

David Robison

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Piercing through to the door: Dt 15:16-17

"It shall come about if he says to you, 'I will not go out from you,' because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant." (Deuteronomy 15:16-17)
The story here is of an Israelite who, in a time of financial hardship, sold themselves into slavery. At the year of release they would normally go free with the blessing of those whom they had served. However, if out of love for their master, they could chose to remain a servant with their master. In this case the master would take an awl and piece the servant's ear through to the door. The pierced ear would be a permanent sign that the Israelite was now a servant of their master.

Paul, in writing to the Galatians, asks of them, "From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus." (Galatians 6:17) Those brand-marks were the scars of the sufferings Paul suffered for the sake of Christ. Paul, and many of the other apostles, often referred to themselves as the bond-servants of Christ. They had become voluntary servants of their master just as the servant in this passage in Deuteronomy, and like that servant, they too bare the scars that testify that they are servants of their master.

So it is in our own lives. Often the price of servanthood includes the scars of suffering. However, there is a glorious promise here in Deuteronomy. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep." (John 10:7) When the servant's ear was pierced, so was the door, and when we are pierced with suffering and sorrows, so is Christ, for He is the door. What pierces us also pierces Him. We do not suffer without Him experiencing it as well. This can give us great comfort and assurance, knowing the Jesus knows and understands the sufferings that are afflicting our soul.

David Robison

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

A National Identity: Dt 15:2-3

"This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the Lord's remission has been proclaimed. From a foreigner you may exact it, but your hand shall release whatever of yours is with your brother." (Deuteronomy 15:2-3)
There are many places in the Book of Deuteronomy from where this principal could be taken. In several places God makes a distinction between a person's neighbor and brother and a foreigner. Consider the following two scriptures.
"You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman." (Deuteronomy 17:15)

"You may charge interest to a foreigner , but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess." (Deuteronomy 23:20)
One of the keys to the establishment and endurance of good government is a strong sense of national identity. It is interesting to consider the results of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the turmoil that has erupted in some of the former Soviet states. While for some, the transition was peaceful, for others the void left by the disintegration of soviet power lead to unrest and civil war. In some cases, waring factions were divided along lines of ethnic, cultural, and religious histories.

What is important to understand is that what the Soviets could hold together through force, fear, and intimidation, failed to provide a cohesive unit under the possibility of popular governance. I believe one of the key reasons is the lack of a strong national identity within the individual former Soviet states. Once the iron claw of dictatorial rulership was removed, the state lacked a single national identity which could sustain the peoples through the transition to a popular form of government. They did not see themselves as one people but as separate, and as such, resisted the forming of themselves into a single state with a single government. For some, this tension lead to the resulting civil wars.

The same is true regarding our country. What enabled the states to come together and form a strong federal government was, in part, a strong sense of national identity and the participation felt by the citizens of each individual state with the history, identity, and future of the whole.

The lesson to be learned is that you cannot simply draw some imaginary line around a collection of people and seek to form them into a single state under a unified government. Waring factions will continue to be waring factions, divided people will continue to be divided people, unless there is some greater unifying purpose to unite them. In forming governments, the importance of a strong national identity can not be ignored.

David Robison

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Giving to the Poor: (Part 2) Dt 15:1-3

There are several reasons for giving when expecting nothing in return. Here are but a few.

Releasing others to prosperity
"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7 NKJV) Prosperity is not arrived at by chance, nor is it earned, rather prosperity is built; often from one generation to another. When we give expecting to receive a return, we hold others in bondage to their debts; often preventing them from every getting free and climbing out from under their indebtedness. However, when we release what we have given, we set others free to begin to build the foundations for prosperity in their lives and the lives of their children.

It causes thanskgiving towards God
"For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God." (2 Corintheans 9:12) When we give expecting nothing in return, we allow people not only to see our generocity but also the love, kindness, and generocity of our Father in heaven who has prompted us to give so generously. When we give as God gives, people instictivly perceive the Giver behind the giver and their thnkfulness will extend beyond us to God.

We are blessed
"But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:13-14) While our giving should never be motivated by a desire to receive, there is a blessing we receive in giving. "Give , and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure -- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." (Luke 6:38) When we give, we release God's hand of blessing into our lives. When we hold back we can bind God's hand in our lives. "There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want." (Proverbs 11:24)

David Robison

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Giving to the Poor: (Part 1) Dt 15:1-3

"At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the Lord's remission has been proclaimed. From a foreigner you may exact it, but your hand shall release whatever of yours is with your brother." (Deuteronomy 15:1-3)
At first I thought this scripture related exclusively to loans and debts, but upon further examination, I realized that these scriptures speak most directly to acts of charity and benevolence. In these scriptures, the Lord goes on to say, "For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'" (Deuteronomy 15:11) From these scriptures, there are several things we can learn about the heart attitude God desires when we give to the poor. Here are but a few.

Give expecting nothing in return
The primary context of this scripture is lending to those in need. God instituted for the nation of Israel a year of release. Every seventh year you were to release your claim on anything you had lent to your brother; it was to be theirs and you were no longer to seek to extract it from them. What you gave in generosity, became theirs to do with as they pleased.

When we give to the poor, we need to do so with a heart attitude of expecting nothing in return. God warns His people about having an evil heart that wants to hold onto everything they have, even if others have a desperate need for sustenance. "Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,' and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the Lord against you, and it will be a sin in you." (Deuteronomy 15:9) Jesus also echoed these same sentiments when He said, "If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend , expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." (Luke 6:34-35) When we give, we should do so expecting nothing in return.

Give generously
Our giving should not be in proportion to the other person's ability to repay us, but rather in proportion to their need. "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks." (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)

Generosity is part of the nature of God. When God pours out His love and kindness on us, He does not do so sparingly but extravagantly. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us." (Ephesians 1:7-8) The Greek word used here for "lavish" means to cause to superabound or to give in excess. When we give generously we express the nature of God and open God's abundant blessing over our own lives. "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9:6)

Give cheerfully
"You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings." (Deuteronomy 15:10) The key to giving cheerfully is understanding where our treasure is. If our treasure is in our possessions, then our heart will be grieved when we give it away. In our giving we will experience a sense of loss because we have relinquished some of our treasure. However, if our treasure is in the Lord, then we will never experience a loss. Even if we give away all our worldly possessions, we will in no way be impoverished. We may give away some of our possessions, but our treasure will still remain. "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) God loves a cheerful giver!

More to come... David Robison

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