Sunday, December 28, 2008

 

Giving Away All One's Possessions

From an old post in He Lives:

I’ve decided (for today, at least) that the toughest verse in the Bible is Luke 12:33. In particular, the first sentence thereof.

32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:32-34)

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Now, how do I avoid the plain meaning? Let's fire up a couple of tried-and-true escape mechanisms:

1) Is this in a parable? No.

2) Can this be cast as figurative? Does it really mean: "Do not hold on to your possessions. Be willing to give them up at a moment’s notice, should they be of use to God or the church. Do not make idols of your possessions. Do not value your self-made kingdom more then the kingdom of God." Can it be taken that way? No.

A commentor said:

Go back to verse 32 because that is where we are told to whom verse 33 is addressed. It is plainly not Christians living in 2008 AD in Virginia. It is members of His 'little flock' in the year 33 AD or thereabouts living in and around Jerusalem. These are the people concerning whom the Father had already chosen to give them the kingdom. Note that He did not say the Church.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not at all saying that giving to those in need is not a possible application of this verse. Just that the plain meaning has to do with the specific speaker and hearers and the immediate context. Less plain interpretations are what are causing the problem of living up to this plain teaching. By the way, did most of these people have cash to give to others? Or, did they have possessions that had to be liquidated so that the proceeds could be given to others? Note, Jesus does not say sell all your possessions. Could He have meant sell enough so that they could give some funds to others in need? Oh well, it just may not be that plain.

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