Should we give all we have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I said I would handle verse 42 on its own. This is one commonly used to try to make Christians give away everything they have for free. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Let’s look at the verse.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
So I am walking down the street one day and you see me. You know this verse. You ask me to give you my wallet, the key to my car, the keys to my house, and all my clothes, and hey, if my wife is at home can you have her also? Now, if I am to be a good little Christian with this verse, I should do all of that and be going down the street naked and allowing you to rape my wife. Right?
This is the importance of context for this.
In Jesus’s day, the poor were often looked down upon. That would likely be the majority of people in the audience. The elites didn’t bother and figured the poor were that way because they were getting what they deserved. The idea of charity for the poor seeming to be a natural thing is an effect of Christian teaching.
So what do you do if someone comes up to you in 1st century Judea and demands something of you? Generally, you give it so you don’t escalate violence. It doesn’t mean that you give everything you have, but it means you don’t withhold and try to go the path of violence in this case.
Now today, that could be different. If you are capable of defending yourself, you can do so. If you’re a black belt in karate or have a concealed carry, that can change the game some. This is especially so if it comes to the defense of someone else.
It also means that even in a non-aggressive situation, you should not withhold if you have the means and lack a reason to give. If you have extra money and someone you know in need asks of you, you should give. Sometimes we can withhold something we can give just because we want to make the person suffer in revenge.
This is also the thing with pay it forward. I still remember a time checking out at Wal-Mart when my credit card wasn’t working for some reason and it was a small amount and the person behind me said, “Don’t worry. Add it to mine. I’ll cover it.”
I’ve also spoken about the time someone at my church heard how I wanted to give my wife a Nintendo Switch for Christmas and I couldn’t do it so I was going to save up Amazon credit for awhile. This person went out and bought the Switch for us and gave us some games for it too. We have another friend who regularly buys us games. Just a couple months ago, someone ordered the Final Fantasy VII Remake and due to the pandemic, decided to order it digitally and had the other copy sent to me instead.
Even if you don’t care for games and see such giving as silly to some extent, every time it happens to me, I get hope. I get hope because I know there are good people out there who love to provide out of their generosity. It’s really nice when someone just takes my wife and I out to dinner just because. I know if I ever come into money, I want to be able to do the same thing for others. There is a local pizzeria that knows my wife and I and knows our financial situation and sometimes just provides freely for us.
Generosity is a Christian virtue that we should be practicing. Avoiding revenge should also be one, as tempting as it is sometimes. Give freely when you can, but don’t let yourself be taken advantage of.