Book Plunge: Atonement and the Death of Christ

What do I think of William Lane Craig’s book published by Baylor University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

William Lane Craig is often said to be the #1 apologist alive today. I consider him a friend personally, and yet I honestly haven’t read many of his books at this point. It’s not because I am opposed to him in some way. It’s just that for whatever reason, I haven’t. When I got this book in the mail though, I figured I should see what it was like. Most of Craig’s works I know of have been apologetics works. While there is apologetics in this to a degree, this one is more theological.

I was also curious because I am a fan of N.T Wright and I couldn’t help but think of this being a response in part to his book on the atonement. Thus, I dove in. I will be giving a brief summary of what the book is about and then listing things I liked about it followed by areas that I had some questions about.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is the biblical data, which makes sense. When forming a doctrine from the Bible, the Bible is usually seen as a good place to go to. Craig actually begins in the Old Testament, which I also thought proper, and looks at topics like sacrifice and the suffering servant before proceeding to how this is fleshed out in the new.

From there, he goes to history. What do the Fathers of the church say about the atonement? What was said in the medieval period? What happened after the time of the Reformation?

Finally, we get into probably what is the most unusual part of the book, though interesting and helpful, and that is the philosophy of the atonement. In this, there is not only a look at the philosophy surrounding justice and mercy, but also around law courts. There are several instances of American law cited and questions of topics such as how do pardons work.

So for positives here, Craig is indeed very thorough. Most people would not think of including something like this last section in a book on the atonement, but Craig does. He also does include some words on the New Perspective on Paul. It’s food for thought, but at this point, I am not ready to say the NPP doesn’t work.

On page 206, there is a wonderful paragraph on the necessity of the crucifixion and the resurrection. This helps show the connection between God dealing out justice and God being merciful on us. There is too little of this in Christian thinking today in that we don’t see the difference the resurrection makes beyond “Christianity is true.”

As I said earlier, I appreciate Craig going to the Old Testament. The Old Testament is where our faith begins and too often we dispense of it. Most Christians I meet who are biblical scholars are New Testament scholars. Nothing wrong with being one, but we need specialists in the Old Testament as well.

I also did appreciate the final section. It was interesting looking at the atonement through the eyes of jurisprudence and seeing how modern notions of law can help us see the way the doctrine works. I also appreciate the philosophical objections being dealt with such as penal substitution being immoral.

However, there are some points I wish to raise that I would like to see addressed.

First, when we get to the New Testament data, I think there is an overemphasis on Paul. I am not opposed to Paul, but when you look in the references, you will find more references to Romans than you will to all the Gospels combined. While I do not consider it Pauline, at least exclusively, the same applies to Hebrews as well. On this point, I think Wright does come out ahead since he does spend more time in the Gospels with the direct words of Jesus.

On p. 167, Craig says it seems odd that someone can be forgiven for their sins and punished for their sins. It does, but I immediately remembered King David’s first son with Bathsheba. David was explicitly said he was forgiven, but he was also told immediately that the child born to him would die. It looks like then that David was forgiven and still punished. I would like to see this fleshed out.

I would have liked to have seen more interaction with N.T. Wright. Wright is the most prolific writer who has put out something on the doctrine and while he was cited at times, I would have liked to have seen an extensive interaction with him.

Finally, I thought the discussions of modern law were interesting, but I kept being struck by a concern in that. If we were in England, would we see English law? Would we see German law in Germany? American law is the category we think in, but does it follow that it’s applicable to the biblical doctrine?

I would have liked to have seen interaction with law in the world of Jesus, such as the law of Caesar or the law of the Sanhedrin. How did justice work in those courts? How did Caesar dole out justice and mercy both? Could Caesar give a pardon and how would that work? After all, these are the categories the biblical world was set in. I am not saying that there is no correspondence to modern law, but I can be skeptical. In a future work, I would prefer to see law in the ancient world look at.

That being said, Craig’s work is a great defense of penal substitution in particular, but I think also rightly recognizing there are some elements of other atonement theories. It is quite likely one will not cover everything. Those wanting a good resource on the doctrine of the atonement owe it to themselves to read Craig’s book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/11/2020

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Trinity is one of those doctrines that Christians get out when they need to deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they don’t pay much attention to elsewhere. It’s a shame because the Trinity is a birthright of Christians. It is a teaching that can change everything for us if we let it.

While Jehovah’s Witnesses will say it is a late development, it is all over the pages of the New Testament. One such place is in Romans. Paul moves back and forth from the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit. Does a Trinitarian understanding help us in any way here? What difference does it make?

To discuss this, I have brought on a friend of mine who got in touch with me who recently wrote a book on this topic. He is a New Testament scholar and very well informed and also known as the Greek Geek. I can also assure listeners that if for some reason we cannot do the show, it will indeed be his fault. (Inside joke for those who understand it.) His name is Ron C. Fay.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Ron C. Fay did his undergraduate work at Calvin College (now Calvin University), where he majored in Physics/Math and Classical Greek. He earned his M Div and PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), where he was the New Testament Department Scholar. He has taught at both TEDS and Liberty University, at the School of Divinity, as part of the New Testament faculty. He has taught from Junior High to doctoral level courses. He spent 7 years in the pastorate as well. He currently teaches for both Liberty and the Stony Brook School. He has published on Paul, Greco-Roman Backgrounds, John, and Luke-Acts and is coediting the series Milstones in New Testament Scholarship with Stanley E. Porter. His book Father, Son, and Spirit in Romans 8: The Roman Reception of Paul’s Trinitarian Theology was just released. 

Romans is a great treasure for Christians and we will be diving into it. Prepare yourself to see the Trinity in the book through new eyes. We have also recently uploaded several episodes and are catching up on others so hopefully, we will be up to date soon.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Who Are In Heaven

What difference does it make where God is? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we pray, we pray to our Father in Heaven. What difference does that make? What is Jesus wanting us to think about when we say that we pray to our Father who is in Heaven?

Let’s start with the dangerous extreme. That would be Islam. Most sects of Islam have a version of deity that is so extreme that God is totally transcendent. The thought of Him interacting in a way such as in the incarnation is repugnant.

This is something we experience when God seems distant in our lives. Consider the idea of the saying that, “If you feel far from God, who moved?” It sure wasn’t God after all. That message could have been brought by one of Job’s friends to “counsel” him.

Of course, in suffering there is nothing wrong with examining our lives and seeing if there is anything we need to repent of. That’s something that we should be doing regardless. The point here is that our emotional experiences are not indicators of where we are in our Christian walk and too often, we make them just that.

So if that’s not what is meant, what is meant? Why not think that Jesus is trying to remind us who is in charge of this story? Heaven is the base of operations. It is where God reigns from. To pray to God is to remind yourself that He is in charge and He rules.

This is something we easily forget. Too many people think that if God is ruling right now, why is there so much evil and suffering? As we go through Matthew and look more at eschatology, we will see that that is issued directly. This is also a mistake Jewish readers often go with thinking that if the Messiah came, then shouldn’t there be love and world peace throughout the Earth as a result?

No. If anything, in Scripture we see just the opposite promised. YHWH says in Psalms 110:1 that the Messiah is to sit at His right hand while His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. The Messiah will have enemies during His reign and it will take time for them to be made a footstool.

Today, saying our Father in Heaven is meant to be a source of comfort. Whatever is going on, God is in charge. That He asks us to pray to Him tells us that He is not distant. He really cares about us. Not only that, we have the incarnation where the Son dwelt among us. God in human flesh walked around us and one day we will be with Him forever.

When you pray, pray to your Father who is in Heaven. He does hear. He does care. He will respond.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father

What does the start of the Lord’s Prayer mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve blogged before on the Lord’s prayer and it’s always interesting. Going through the Sermon on the Mount, this one cannot be missed. So let’s take another in-depth look at the Lord’s prayer.

Jesus starts off by telling us how we should pray. The prayer starts off with an address. The proper recipient is our Father. Okay. That sounds pretty basic. You start the prayer and you are talking to God.

Sounds basic, but it really isn’t.

Notice that Jesus at the start immediately assumes a communal activity. His followers were to come together and pray to God together. This is not to say that individual prayer can never happen. It is most certainly can. It is to say that Christianity is not meant to be experienced as an individual event.

Too often we have what is today Lone Ranger Christianity. Me and Jesus can just figure everything out today. I always go back to this story. It was a lady in a small group I was in once who said “I’m saved. My children are saved. Just sit back and wait for Jesus to come.” What an awful thought! How do you know your children will stay in the faith? What about other people and their children?

The community aspect is one thing, but there’s more. The community is to address God as Father. This is not some out there and distant deity. This is one who asks us to approach Him as if He is a parent. Jesus regularly makes this kind of analogy in the sermon and elsewhere.

This is also why Hebrews tells us to boldly approach the throne of grace. If you are the son or the daughter of the king, you ought not be afraid to approach the king. You belong there. You have been invited. You are a child of the king. Live like one.

Epictetus was a pagan philosopher who lived not too long after Christ. In his Golden Sayings, I find saying IX impressive. Change the language to a Christian language and see how it applies.

“If a man could be thoroughly penetrated, as he ought, with this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these two things are commingled–the body which we share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?–A wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?

How much better could we see ourselves if we realized that we are adopted into the family. Remember Mephibosheth in the Old Testament? He was invited to feast at the King’s table, something the account says three times. Augustus Caesar was the most powerful man on Earth at one time, and got that way by adoption.

When we pray our Father, we are to realize that we are adopted into a royal family and we have that privilege. It is not just us individually, but us as a community. We all have the Father together and we can all come together as His children.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Not To Pray

What are some things to avoid in prayer? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes, I hate public prayer at a church service. I say this as someone who has to do it as well. You never really feel genuine doing it. You know people are watching you to see what you have to say. It’s awkard.

Then there are the people who do these public prayers and they go on and on and on. You can say they’re real men of Jesus, but most of us just find them annoying. I find it interesting that the Lord’s prayer can really be said in under a minute. When the closing prayer starts to go longer than the sermon itself, we have a problem.

Jesus had a few statements about things like this. He never said to not pray in public as He sometimes did this as well, but He did say to watch your motives again. Some people do make a show of public prayers. They pray showing off their eloquence and their devotion to God, which if that is what you’re doing, we can call your devotion into question. Let’s look at verses 5-8 of Matthew 6.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

One of the rules for giving a sermon is to KISS. It has two meanings. “Keep it simple, stupid” and “Keep it short, stupid.” Prayer is done to talk to God. It’s not done to show others how awesome you are.

This is why also your devotion is not meant to be measured necessarily by how long you pray. I know some people who are true prayer warriors and they can pray for a long time. I’m not one of them. I know I need to work on that. Those like me need to start simple as well. Don’t say you’re going to build up prayer and then say you’re going to start with an hour a day. You’ll burn out and give up. If anything, start small. Maybe 3-5 minutes even.

Jesus also tells us our Father knows what we need before we ask. If so, why do we ask? We ask not to make something known, but to show that we are realizing our trust and dependence.

One of the problems I have with many prayer studies is they treat prayer as if the only goal is to get something. It also treats God as if He is obligated to answer a prayer. Many of us were devoutly praying for the healing of Nabeel Qureshi. It never came. Does that prove God doesn’t exist or that God doesn’t or didn’t love Nabeel? Not at all. It just shows for whatever reason we don’t understand, God chose not to heal.

It’s also too easy for prayer to become just a wish list. There’s not enough time spent in thanksgiving and adoration. I remember J.P. Moreland once saying he thinks in a worship service, the music should come after the sermon. Why? Because then we have heard the Scripture and the good news and we are giving thanks and celebrating about what we have heard.

Yet keep in mind, Jesus still points us to the reward. Our true reward is from our Father in heaven. It’s not in the praise and adoration of men. It’s in the approval of our Father. That is the praise we are to have.

Prayer is something important and we need to work on it, but one of the first things to do is to learn what not to do.

Let’s try to get it right.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Give In Secret

How should we give? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Jesus’s day, people wanted to get honor. To some extent, we all want this today, but honor is not the driving force that it used to be. In some ways, I think it is, but we don’t recognize it. If you’re on social media, you want your posts to have likes and shares. You want to have followers on Twitter. You want subscribers and views on YouTube. High school can often just be a big popularity contest and truly, high school never ends.

Jesus talks about the proper method of giving though.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Something that can irk me is when a company makes an advertisement and in the advertisement, they talk about how much they are giving to help something, which has been something common during this pandemic. Even more bothersome to me is when the giving is used to encourage people to get the product. “If you give to us, we will donate so much to charity.”

It’s worth pointing out though that Jesus doesn’t condemn giving for the sake of honor. However, He points us to the true honor. It is the honor of the Father that we are seeking. God sees what we do in secret and He will reward us for what we do. We often think that seeking something for yourself is bad. It’s not. It’s how and why. Jesus tells us to seek the honor that comes from God.

This isn’t to say that your giving can never be shown publicly. It can be. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. However, the goal of our giving should not be so people will just think how awesome we are. It should be for the kingdom of God and the good of the other person.

In Jesus’s day, the Pharisees would publicly proclaim when they were given. They did get their reward in full right there. They got the praise of people around them. Jesus wants us to seek the higher praise. This is the praise of God. The praise of people is temporary and will fade. The praise of God lasts forever.

And really, that’s something we need to keep in mind. We focus so much on temporary things and lose sight of eternal things. We will be around God forever and forever experience how we dealt with Him. If we lived our lives in love of Him, we will live our eternity that way. If we lived lives of hating Him, we will live forever that way too. Each of us is building an eternal dwelling in some sense and when we get to eternity, we will have the dwelling we built.

Build well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Just Showing Off

How do we do good deeds? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A month or so ago I remember making a post on Facebook about how I can see advertisements sometimes where companies talk about how they give to charity. It can also include incentives like “If you buy such and such from us, we will give XYZ to charity.” Generally, when I hear that kind of thing, it’s really a reason for me to not want to support. After all, you’re wanting to make a profit, which is fine, and your selling point is that you will give to charity? I should also buy your product or service because you are such a great company that gives to charity?

It reminds me of the verse I’m looking at today in Matthew 6.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

A year or so ago it was a December and Allie was in a hospital and so it was just me. I went to the church I go to and everyone could tell I was bummed out in Sunday School. After the class, the pastor asked me to stay behind and he wanted to share something with me. He told me that a donation had been made to Allie and I for our usage. I thought that this was nice and wondered how much it could be. $50? $100?

Nope. $5,000.

To this day, we don’t know for sure who gave it. We have ideas, but whoever it is wanted it to be a secret donation. They didn’t give so we could go and praise them. They gave because they wanted to support us and that gift was extremely helpful to us.

This is not to say you can never let your generosity be known, but you have to ask why you are letting it be known. What is the end goal in all of it? Do you want people to know that you’re just so awesome? Perhaps you share who you are just because you want the other person to know and to know that they have a friend in you.

At the same time, Jesus doesn’t condemn doing good deeds because it will give you something good in the end as well. After all, He says do these things so you will be seen by your Father in Heaven. If you don’t do them that way, you will get no reward. This means that if you do do them the right way, you will get a reward.

It’s really interesting that Jesus still appeals to our self-interest. What He is wanting us to seek is the honor of God. There’s something someone once told me that has stuck with me. Jesus talks about going to a banquet and taking the lowest seat so you will be invited to a better one and says if you humble yourself you will be exalted and vice-versa. Notice this though. Everyone is humbled and everyone is exalted. We just choose what order they come in.

We are to do good deeds, of course, but if we really do them just so other people will think highly of us, that negates the reward we can get for them. The other person can still benefit, but it’s not the same. I encourage you that insofar as it’s possible, try to do your good deeds secretly so other people don’t know.

If you can’t avoid that, it’s understandable, but still, check your motives. Seek the purest of motives. If wrong motives are in you and you still know the right thing to do, do it anyway and ask God to purify your motives.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/27/2020

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Superheroes are really popular in our culture. While Batman and Superman and others have been around for decades, they still have new fans coming up every single day. New movies featuring them are constantly coming out and television series have been produced regularly.

These aren’t the only ones certainly. There are many more heroes such as the Avengers and other members of the Justice League and then the Justice Society and plenty of heroes that stand alone in their own right. I grew up also watching Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers and those series have stuck with me to this day.

We live in a culture that loves superheroes. We want someone to come in and right the wrongs and stop evil and for many of them, we also like the moral compass they live with. Batman has a rule of not killing and in the second season of Arrow, the Green Arrow also took on that rule. If anything disappointed me severely in Man of Steel, it was when Superman killed Zod. The Superman I always knew did not kill, at least directly.

Yes. Superheroes can do many things, but unfortunately, they are also fictional so they can only do so in a fictional universe, even if that universe is meant to be ours. However, with all the things that they can do, there is one thing they cannot do.

Superheroes can’t save you.

Many superheroes despite having qualities that are Christlike, cannot provide salvation. If we looked to superheroes like they were the Messiah, we would believe many false things. What if our idea of Jesus was like superheroes? What if we formed our Christology that way? This Saturday, my guest will be someone who has considered that and written a book on Christology using superheroes to illustrate his point. The book is Superheroes Can’t Save You and the author is Todd Miles.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Todd Miles has been a follower of Jesus from a young age. A native of Oregon and resident of Portland, he is married to Camille. They have six children, Natalie, Ethan, Levi, Julius, Vicente, and Marcos. Todd is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary where he teaches Theology,
Hermeneutics, Biblical Theology, Church History, and Apologetics. He currently serves as an Elder at Hinson Church. Prior to working at Western Seminary, he was employed as a research engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Todd is an alumnus of Oregon State University (BS and MS in Nuclear Engineering), Western Seminary (MDiv), and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (PhD in Systematic Theology). Todd enjoys “all-things athletic,” “all-things Oregon State,” and reading military history and biographies. Todd is the author of many published articles and books, including Superheroes Can’t Save You: Epic Examples of Historic Heresies and A God of Many Understandings?

We’re still working on getting caught up on shows. I plan to upload several of them soon. Thanks for your patience and I hope this episode will greatly help you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Love Your Enemies

How should you treat your enemies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jesus has just told us to respond with kindness to those who insult us and try to hurt us, but now He ups the ante even further. Up until now, He has been telling us what the Law means, but the next saying He quotes is not from the Law. Let’s look at the passage in Matthew 5.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Nowhere does the Law command you to hate your enemy, but this was a common thought of the time. If you loved your neighbor, since an enemy wasn’t specified, surely you are to hate your enemy. Nope. You are to love them too. Actually, the Law itself upheld good treatment of the enemy, such as returning his stray animal to him.

This can be really hard at times for all of us. I don’t consider myself having many personal enemies, but if someone hurts Allie, they become my enemy. I was once at a Christian event and I looked up and suddenly from behind, the person in front of me looked like someone who had really hurt Allie in the past. I was filled with rage immediately. I could hardly concentrate on what the speaker was saying. I found out later it wasn’t him, but at the time, I sure was thinking about things I wanted to do.

My usual idea in this case is to do what I want and then ask for forgiveness later.

Just a couple of days ago we had someone knock on our door and with them was someone Allie had been hurt by. They wanted to take us downtown and offered to pay us. I only asked if it was okay with Allie.

It’s really amazing how we think. We look at what other people do so much which we cannot control, and we look at what we do so little which we can control. When I stand before God one day, He is not going to ask me about how other people treated me. He is going to ask me about how I treated other people.

God demonstrates this love. Everyone gets rain and everyone gets sunshine. Anyone can love someone who is good to them as well. Big whoop if you do that. It’s if you can love someone who is opposed to you. That’s a real accomplishment.

Something to note. This does not mean you necessarily put yourself in a compromising position. In a 12-step recovery, you are told to make amends to people you have hurt unless that would hurt you or them. If it is dangerous for you to be in front of a person who could be a threat to you even if you did hurt them, do not reach out to them. You can forgive someone for a wrong, but you don’t have to trust them again.

Those who want some examples of this kind of love are free to check my article on if your murderer will be in heaven, which is one of the most popular ones on this site. As someone said in the comments, right now, Stephen and Paul are together. Radical love is what is required to be a Christian.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Give To The One Who Asks

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.

In Christ,
Nick Peters