Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Offering, p. 108. daily wants, God's ordinances, and charity. Look

ing, therefore, at our Lord's perfect example in scrupulously keeping the law, we are left to infer that He not only paid tithes and all other religious dues, but that He probably exceeded what the law required.

CHAPTER XI

CHRIST'S TEACHING ON TITHING AND

BENEFICENCE

Christ's teaching on títhe-paying and beneficence, 117.-Christ's

exhortations to almsgiving, and manner thereof, 118.-His
encouragement to almsgiving, its proportion, and whole-hearted-
ness, 119.- Denunciations of Pharisees explained, 121.-His
commendation of three large givers, 124.-Summary of Christ's
teaching in relation to tithe-paying, 125.

E now pass from our Lord's example to

His direct teaching on tithe-paying and religious beneficence. Here we may observe that the Founder of Christianity proclaimed expressly, at the outset of His ministry, that He was not come to destroy THE LAW, but to fulfil it, and that whoever would do and teach the precepts of that law should be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

In harmony with this, when a lawyer stood up and tried Him, saying, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the Lord replied, “What is written in the law”? Besides which, we know 2 Luke x. 25-6. that the law was invariably referred to by Him as the proper standard of godly living, and therefore (by implication, of course) the right standard of proper giving

1 Matt. V. 17-19.

1 Matt. v. 42.

[ocr errors]

thou away.

? Luke iii. 11.

4 Matt. x. 8.

As for almsgiving, and religious beneficence in general, Jesus Christ laid down several broad and deep principles as foundations on which His followers might build.

Give,” He said, “to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee turn not

“He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath food, let him do likewise.”' Again, “Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed

down, shaken together, running over, shall they 8 Luke vi. 38. give into your bosom.” :

Another of these far-reaching principles was addressed to His apostles on the first occasion they were sent out to preach : “Freely ye have received, freely give.” And our Lord enunciated one other principle, which, in its own sphere, has no parallel in the literature of the world, and which, though not recorded in the gospels, seems to have been a household word among the early Christians, so that it sufficed for an apostle to enjoin upon the elders of the Church at Ephesus to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 5

Besides the foregoing exhortations on giving generally, our Lord expressly enjoined upon His followers the habit of giving as a religious duty.

“ Sell that ye have,” said He, “and give alms."

Nevertheless, the giving was to be no mere perfunctory distribution of money, irrespective of the motive by which it was prompted. The giving

5 Acts xx. 35.

6 Luke xii. 33.

6

2 Matt. vi. 23.

of alms and doing righteousness, in order to be acceptable in the sight of God, was, He taught, not to be done ostentatiously, so as to be seen by men, but rather so unobtrusively that one's left hand was not to know what the right hand was doing.' 1 Matt. vi. 1-4. Nor was a gift to be offered on the altar by a man at variance with his brother; but rather, the gift should be left before the altar, and a reconciliation be first effected.”2

Neither, again, was almsgiving to be done with a view to reciprocal favours : “ When thou makest a dinner or

a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbours; lest haply they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be blessed: because they have not wherewith to recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just.”3

As a further encouragement to such almsgiving and righteousness, the Lord Jesus taught, in effect, that such good deeds thus done would be taken as done to Himself :

"I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. ... Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these My brethren, even these least, ye did it unto Me." 4

As for the amount, scale, or proportion in which alms were to be devoted, no gift, Jesus implied, could be too small, if worthily offered : for a cup

3 Luke xiv. 12-14.

4 Matt. xxv. 35.

1 Matt. x. 42.

2 Matt. X. 37.

of cold water only, given in the name of a disciple, was in no wise to go unrewarded. But, whatever may be lawfully inferred as to the religious value of gifts of intrinsically small worth, it is quite clear that it was not intended as a standard for those who ought to give more; inasmuch as we have already seen that the teaching of Christ, as recorded in the gospels, enjoins an almost lavish system of beneficence. Indeed, there seems to be no limit to the claim which Christ made upon His followers as to the consecration to Himself of their persons and their possessions, saying, “He that loveth [not merely his money, but even] father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

In contrast to (or shall we not say in fulfilment of?) the legal spirit of the Old Testament, which named the proportion in which men should contribute of their substance to God, Jesus Christ bade His followers to seek first and before all else God's kingdom and His righteousness, promising that all such things as food and clothing should be added to them. Moreover, they were not to lay up

for themselves treasure upon the earth, but to lay 4 Matt. vi. 19-20. up for themselves treasure in heaven." Hence

when the rich young ruler asked the Lord what he should do to inherit eternal life, the answer

was: “Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto 5 Matt. xix. 16- the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” 5

If this seems to us a hard test, we may remember that it was not asking more than was implied on

3 Matt. vi. 33.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »