Saturday, November 25, 2006

Caring for the Poor part 3 - Real Help vs Doing Bad by Doing good

After Katrina there was a great deal of money spent and lost because we, the church and the government don't understand Biblical assistance. Much of what is done in the name of mercy is enabling people to not get their life together or make a serious effort. If you want an example, look at what we have done to the poor American Indian with the reservation and entitlement system. In a different way we have done the same with the black man. We must stop doing bad by doing good.

I saw a story today about a church in Tennesee who GAVE an $80,000 house free and clear to a couple who were victums of Katrina. Instead of gratitude and moving into the house, the couple sold it and pocketed the money saying, "Take it up with God". I know they were dolts. I know they were leaches. But they are a bad/good example of Christians trying to do good and ending up doing bad. By their actions that Church sanctioned the greed and lack of morals of that couple. That church had other options. I'll be they take it next time. So, if the following seems just a little hard hearted, it's harder hearted to just be enablers and give without expecting some effort on the part of the reciever.

From Ron MacKinzie's Blessed Economist

Christians will actually help the poor using three main methods.

Daily Food Distribution

During times of crisis and in poor countries, Deacons will organise a daily distribution of food to those who are poor. For example, the apostles organised a “daily distribution of food” in Jerusalem (Acts 6:2).

Regular distributions of food may not be necessary during more normal times. The focus will shift to caring for widows and others who have fallen into hardships. Some pragmatic principles for this work are outlined in Paul’s letter to Timothy. The aim was to focus on those with real needs.

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need (1 Tim 5:3).

Help is only provided to those with genuine needs.

1. Poor people who are unwilling to work would not receive help (2 Thes 5:10).
2. People with families should seek help from their families first. They should only go to the church if their family are unable to help (1 Tim 5:4).
3. Poor people receiving help must help the church by devoting themselves to prayer (1 Tim 5:5).
4. People who live for pleasure should not be helped. (1 Tim 5:6).
5. Young widows should remarry rather than remain dependent on the church for a long time (1 Tim 5:11-15). Some of these widows might have been the wives of martyrs.

Five principles will shape the efforts of the church to care of the poor.

1. Efforts should focus on those in serious need.
2. Care should normally be short term. People were encouraged to take steps that would enable them to support themselves.
3. Most attention will be given to older widows who are unable to care for themselves.
4. The church should always be the last resort for those seeking help.
5. Caring must take place within strong relationships. All assistance to the poor should function at the local level where the people are known.

Interest Free Loans

The second main method for assisting the poor is an interest-free loan. When a person strikes temporary hardship, they will often need help to get started again. They may need to pay for training or need capital to start a business. The solution is a loan of some money. God’s people are commanded to be generous to those in need.

If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tight fisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open handed and freely lend him whatever he needs. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to… Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. (Deut 15:7-11).
The context of this passage is interest on loans to poor people. There are several important principles that apply.

1. No interest should be charged on a loan to the person who is poor.

Do not charge your brother interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a brother Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess. (Deut 23:19-20).
The loaner gives up the interest that they could earn if they put the money in bank. They are effectively giving their interest away.

2. The loan should have a seven-year term (Deut 15:9). We do not know the future, so we should not commit ourselves for longer than ten years.

3. If the loan has not been repaid at the end of seven years, it should be cancelled (Deut 15:1). This removes part of the burden from the recipient. They have an incentive to succeed, but if they fail the burden will be lifted. This principle also means that the person making the loan must be prepared to lose the entire amount. They face additional uncertainty. They might just lose the interest, but there is a possibility that they will lose the lot. They should be prepared for that eventuality.

4. Often the loan should be provided by a family member (Lev 25:25). If no one in the family can help, someone in the church might provide the loan.

5. If the poor person has no family to help and their character is not known to the church, they might be asked to give something of value as a pledge. If the pledge is something that they need during the day, it should be returned in the morning.

If the man is poor, do not go to sleep with his pledge in your possession. Return his cloak to him by sunset so that he may sleep in it. Then he will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the LORD your God (Deut 24:10-13).

6. We must always show kindness and respect to the person in need. The fact that she is poor does not give us the right to charge into her house or tell her what to do.

When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into his house to get what he is offering as a pledge. Stay outside and let the man to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you (Deut 24:10-13).
The problem with charity is that it makes the recipient feel dependent and worthless. Providing a loan says to the person that you are confident in their future. You are saying that you have faith in them. This helps build the person’s self esteem and self-respect.

Loans give an incentive for the person to get back onto their feet. Most people do not want to be in debt. They will usually work hard to pay back the loan.

The worst effect of government social welfare is the effect that it has on the incentive to work and succeed. People no longer have to work to supply their needs, because the government will provide for them. Those who do work are taxed heavily, to pay the cost of social welfare. They soon get the feeling that it does not pay to work hard and the whole economy is weakened. Interest free loans strengthen the economy.

Poor loans are an excellent method for helping people in third world countries. The greatest problem is lack of capital. Local lenders often charge exorbitant interest rates that enslave people for life. Providing people with an interest free loan to start a business if often the best way to help them. They will often be able to repay the loan quite quickly. An effective business will provide financial support for the entire life time. Those who are successful will be able to help families. Interest free loans are often the best way to help the poor.


Gleaning is another way that people Christians can help the poor. This is a biblical principle.

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. (Deut 24:19-21).
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God (Lev 19:9-10)

Land owners were required to leave some of their crop for the poor to glean.

The interesting thing about this approach is that the poor person has to work quite hard to get the help. Gleaning is harder work than harvesting, because the easiest part of the crop has been already been harvested. This hard work develops good work habits. It also contributes to the self respect of the gleaner.

Rural gleaning is not practical for people living in urban cultures, so developing modern gleaning methods is a challenge for Christian business owners. They should be looking for ways to give some of there surplus stock or spare capacity to poor people in ways that will help them get ahead. This will require creativity to be effective.

Business people should be looking for opportunities to apply the gleaning principle by helping poor people through their business. An ISP operator might provide free access to the internet for job searches. Another business might provide training on how to use machines or equipment during the evening. Businesses could give surplus machinery or computing equipment to poor people starting a business.

Bonded Service

The bonded employment option is only used for really serious poverty. Sometimes a person will have a financial problem that is too serious to be dealt with by an interest free loan. This is most like to occur where a person has to make restitution for a crime and has no credit record to justify the loan and no family member willing to act as guarantor to a lender.

The poor person will bond themselves to an employer for up to seven years in return for a lump-sum advance of their future wages.

If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free (Deut 15:12).
The length of the loan will depend on the amount advanced and the productive capacity of the person receiving the loan. During the time that the person is bonded, they will not be able change employers or move to a different place of residence. The employer would give them enough to pay for food and shelter, but the rest of what they earn would go towards paying back the loan.

The employer making the loan is running quite a risk, because they would not know how useful their employee will be. He may end up advancing more wages than he can recoup within seven years, especially if he is generous. There is also a risk that the bonded employee might abscond.

The employer is also required to treat the bonded employee well. If the employer does physical harm to a bonded employee, he or she must be set free from their debt.

If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth (Ex 21:26-27).

When the bonded employee has repaid the amount of the bond, they are to be set free. The employer must be generous to the departing servant.

Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because his service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do (Deut 15:13,18).
The employer’s help allow the departing employee to get started in their new life. The employer can be generous, because they will receive God’s blessing for providing help in this way.


Poverty is one of the more persistent problems faced in the modern world. Governments have spent billions and billions of dollars on social welfare schemes with only limited schemes. They have donated billions of dollars as foreign own aid, but the problem of poverty in the third world has hardly been dented. The problem is that man’s way always fails. God has provided clear wisdom and guidance for dealing with poverty. We will only eliminate poverty from the world, when we do it God’s way.

Real Thanksgiving of AWE

I grew up in Rural North Dakota. I spent a lot of time on my back with a telescope. John Redlin and I would lay on a blanket in his back yard. I later would often find myself out on a hill near Ranch 2 at midnite looking up. Sometimes it would be clear as a bell in winter. The nearest yard light would be 2 miles away. The stars would be so bright, you could see the color differences between them.

It was more than just pedantic identification. To see the milky way streak across the sky and know that I was seeing billions of suns with planets around them gave me a sense of awe I carry to this day. How could I not believe in God seeing this. Paul the Apostle wrote of this in Romans 1:20 (NKJV) that,

"“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. . ."

There were times when we lived north of Fargo that at 3AM the northern lights would be so bright you could almost see your shadow. It would seem as if you could actually hear them. They would humm. The telephone and power lines seemed to pick up the noise of them and reflect them.

I say this because I just looked at some pictures I want to show you from the Hubble telescope. I think the lack of faith in God exists because other lesser lights have dimmed our capacity to see the majesty that is the heavens. No wonder David wrote of what they saw at night with such eloquence:

"“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands."” (Psalm 19:1)
"“O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! " "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained;" "O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth!"” (Psalm 8:1,3,9)

"“Thy heavens, the work of the Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained" "Thou dost make him [man] to rule over the works of Thy hands, Thou has put all things under his feet"” (Psalms 8:3,6).

And Moses warns people to understand that God created these things and that we are not to worship them but worship God. The beauty of the stars are a gift, a heritage to us.

"“And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage" (Deuteronomy 4:19).
So, with that understanding, take a look at the pictures here. When your breath is taken away and you stand in awe, remember your and their creator are ONE.

And say Thank You.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Caring for the Poor Part 3 - The Church

Yesterday I was downtown Chicago. The street people were everywhere with their begging cups out. I even saw one fellow with a cup and a sad cardboard sign oblivious to everything because he was busy listening to hip hop on his I-Pod while he begged. I didn't put any money in his cup. In fact I only gave to one guy. I had (no hyperbole here) 50 chances. Being a Christian does NOT mean we are stupid about these things.

So. From Ron MacKinzies blog Blessed Economist, here is the 3rd installment. We do not understand Charity and Giving to the poor in the Church. I hope we can grow up as the Body of Christ and quit being stupid with our money. Unfortunately, many Charity organizations have at their core keeping the ministers and employees charitably employed. I don't give to them either. Look for very high efficiency giving vehicles. I recommend the Salvation Army to start. There are others. Not many.

Visible Witness

A new commandment I give you: Love one another as I have loved you, so must you love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34,35).

I when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself (John 12:32).

The people of the world are entitled to look at a Church to see if its members love each other. The problem is that love is not easy to see. Forgiveness and encouragement will often not be visible to those outside the Church.

The best way for Christians to make their love visible is by sharing their possessions. In a world where riches and poverty are normal, a Church with "“no needy people"” will be a very visible witness to the love of Jesus.

A sharing Church would be a tremendous testimony to people living close by. Christianity is not just a personal relationship with Jesus. His death on the cross also broke down the barrier of sin that divides us from other people. His people must demonstrate their restored relationships. In a world that is hungry for love, the best witness may not be a believer saying "Jesus loves me"”, but a group of Christians freely sharing their possessions.

Fasting Your Lifestyle

As Churches get serious about sharing their possessions, a simple lifestyle should start to emerge. People will still own property and possessions, but their attitudes should be very different. They will choose a simpler lifestyle, not because possessions are evil, but because they are irrelevant. Christians should be so focused on what God is doing that they lose interest in the things that occupy the world.

If the Holy Spirit is really moving in power, Christians will find it hard to be absorbed in a newer house or a bigger yacht? If the Lord is "“adding to their number daily"”, "“retail therapy"” will seem quite boring. If there is great joy in their neighborhood, because paralytics and cripples are being restored, who would be dreaming about upgrading their car? The members of a Church will be so involved in the work of the Holy Spirit, that they will lose the need to own more and more things.

Sharing will mean that Christians can live better than the rest of society, while owning fewer possessions. Consequently, they will be able to spend less time working for money and more time working for the Lord. If they are called to work, they will be able to give more freely to support people in need. Sharing will free up resources for the work of the Kingdom. If God'’s people learn to live simply and to share what they have, deacons will be able to use the surplus to minister to people in need.

IN the Church - Deacons

The ministry of the deacon is the important for the care of the poor. In the New Testament, deacons were the social "“welfare arm"” of the Church. The record of the appointment of the first deacons is in Acts 6. Men like Barnabas, when called to a Christian ministry, had sold their property and "brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet". The twelve used this money to provide for those in need.

When the number of disciples had increased, some of the Grecian Jews complained because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and of wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:2-4).

This proposal pleased the whole group so they appointed seven men who were full of the Spirit. They presented these men to the apostles who laid hands on them. The result was that the word of God spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.

The deacons were responsible for the offerings of the Church. They used them to provide for the needs of the poor and the sick. In doing this they were fulfilling the parable of the Good Samaritan. When he found a person in trouble, he took action to meet the immediate need. He then took further action to find a permanent solution, taking responsibility for the cost himself. This is a good pattern for the ministry of a deacon.

Qualifications of Deacons

The qualifications for the selection of deacons are listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These are relevant to the nature of their work.

1. A deacon must be a person who does not pursue dishonest gain. Because they are responsible for the money of the Church, deacons must be trustworthy. They must have proved that they can handle money wisely and responsibly.

2. A deacon must be able to manage his household. If a man cannot manage his own household, then he will not be able to manage the finances of the Church. The elders should look at the way a person's household is functioning for evidence that he has the ability to do the work of a deacon. However, there is another reason why household management is important. The deacon also has a teaching role. He does not just give money to the people who are poor. He also teaches them how to manage their households better, so that they can manage on their own in the future without help. A deacon could not do this unless he was skilled in managing his own household. This would mean that monetary help would always be given on a short-term basis.

3. A deacon must also have a clear knowledge of the truths of the faith. This is because he also has an evangelistic ministry. The Christian gospel is always directed to the whole person. If a person is hungry, it is no use preaching the gospel to them, without feeding them. On the other hand, feeding a hungry person is no use without doing something about their spiritual needs. Deacons have a total ministry to the poor. As they distribute food and clothing, they will also preach the gospel. This is why they must have a good knowledge of the faith.

Some evangelists will start their ministry as deacons. Philip and Stephen both began their service as a deacon and then went on to a successful ministry as an evangelist.

4. People skills are more important than knowledge of finance and administration. The early Church chose deacons who were skilled in working with people.

5. Deacons should be full of the Spirit (Acts 6:2-4). They will need the discernment and wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give. They would have personal contact with those that they are helping, so they could quickly weed out those who were bludging. The money would go to those with genuine needs.

Women in the Ministry of a Deacon

Women can fulfill the ministry of the deacon. Deaconesses are referred to twice in the New Testament. Phoebe a deaconess of the Church of Cenchrea is mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:1. The women referred to in 1 Timothy 3:11 are almost certainly deaconesses.

The ministry of the deacon can be performed well by a married couple. The husband would work with men and his wife would work with the women. The deacon'’s wife would concentrate on helping the wives to manage their homes wisely.

Widows can also exercise this ministry. They would have responsibility for caring for the other widows in the Church. Where a Church is under persecution this would be a very important ministry, as there will be many widows or women with husbands in prison or in heaven.

Women tend to function better than men in situations where personal care is needed. Female behavior is orientated towards helping and caring for personal needs. This means that women often do the work of a deacon better than men. They should be released into this ministry.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

65 years ago God and FDR minus the ACLU

As a marker as to how far we have come or not on this Thanksgiving Day 2006 I am printing below excerpts from FDR that I read this morning in Christian Breaking News.

It occurs to me that if a President Bush or even Clinton said anything like this today the Hue and Cry risen up against them by the ACLU, Liberal Press, and Barry Lind would drown out the appeals to "Pass the Turkey". We are in deep doo doo in this country and maybe by looking back 65 years we can get our bearings again.

From Breaking News:

Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations are fascinating insights into American history. As this Thanksgiving approaches, the sobering words of Franklin D. Roosevelt during Thanksgivings celebrated while fighting WWII, ring familiar to us who pray for our men and women fighting on the frontlines in the War on Terror today. The following are excerpts from some of these humble and inspiring Proclamations:


It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord. Across the uncertain ways of space and time our hearts echo those words, for the days are with us again when, at the gathering of the harvest, we solemnly express our dependence upon Almighty God. The final months of this year, now almost spent, find our Republic and the Nations joined with it waging a battle on many fronts for the preservation of liberty.

In giving thanks for the greatest harvest in the history of our Nation, we who plant and reap can well resolve that in the year to come we will do all in our power to pass that milestone; for by our labors in the fields we can share some part of the sacrifice with our brothers and sons who wear the uniform of the United States.

It is fitting that we recall now the reverent words of George Washington, "Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy Protection," and that every American in his own way lift his voice to heaven. I recommend that all of us bear in mind this great Psalm: (Quotes the 23rd Psalm)."


God's help to us has been great in this year of march towards world-wide liberty. In brotherhood with warriors of other United Nations our gallant men have won victories, have freed our homes from fear, have made tyranny tremble, and have laid the foundation for freedom of life in a world which will be free...Our forges and hearths and mills have wrought well; and our weapons have not failed. Our farmers, victory gardeners, and crop volunteers have gathered and stored a heavy harvest in the barns and bins and cellars. Our total food production for the year is the greatest in the annals of our country...

For all these things we are devoutly thankful, knowing also that so great mercies exact from us the greatest measure of sacrifice and service...May we on Thanksgiving Day, and on every day, express our gratitude and zealously devote ourselves to our duties as individuals and as a nation. May each of us dedicate his utmost efforts to speeding the victory which will bring new opportunities for peace and brotherhood among men.


In this year of liberation, which has seen so many millions freed from tyrannical rule, it is fitting that we give thanks with special fervor to our Heavenly Father for the mercies we have received individually and as a nation and for the blessings He has restored, through the victories of our arms and those of our allies, to His children in other lands.

For the preservation of our way of life from the threat of destruction; for the unity of spirit which has kept our Nation strong; for our abiding faith in freedom; and for the promise of an enduring peace, we should lift up our hearts in thanksgiving. For the harvest that has sustained us and, in its fullness, brought succor to other peoples; for the bounty of our soil, which has produced the sinews of war for the protection of our liberties; and for a multitude of private blessings, known only in our hearts, we should give united thanks to God.

To the end that we may bear more earnest witness to our gratitude to Almighty God, I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas. Let every man of every creed go to his own version of the Scriptures for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this nation has achieved.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I am traveling for a few days on Bidness.  (I saw Ludicrous on Sat Night Live, he was really entertaining, who knew a rap star could be so clever?) Be back before Thursday.  But, I will not be posting.   I'll have lots of "Observations" to harangue you about when I get back.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

George W Bush's Noble War

I have many readers who have been quite vocal about their opposition to the USA's war on terror, to the whole effort in Iraq and the Middle East. Orson Scott Card has written a detailed defense of the war as waged by Bush and Co.

The problem is, it is comprehensive, long and requires some intellectual effort to get thru. I have stripped out the meat of it and posted it for your review.

If you are an opponent of the war and have enough intellectual honesty to consider how those of us who are Christians can sincerely support this effort, I challenge you to read the whole thing. Top to bottom. If at the end you still see the War on Terror as a wrong even unchristian venture, I want to hear your opinion. I am more convinced today of the rightness of this war than I was a year ago.

Take 10 minutes and read the whole thing here.

It could change your opinion and maybe your life.

Caring for the Poor - The Christian Part 2

Ron McKinzie's blog "Blessed Economist" is carrying a steady series of dealing with the poor. I have found his views on this subject to be very paralell to mine. In other words if I wrote this it wouldn't be as good. So, in unabashed reprint, here is part TWO.

In situations where families are unable to provide the help that is needed, the church must get involved. Caring for the poor is part of the responsibility of every Christian.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him (1 Jn 3:16-17).

These verses are really challenging for Christians. We know that Jesus laid down his life for us. We should also be prepared to lay down our lives for others by sharing our possessions. This is best done by the body of Christ sharing together. Deacons are members of the church who care for the poor on behalf of the church.

Most people feel that large variations in income or wealth are wrong. This is confirmed in the Bible. God’s goal is equality.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality (2 Cor 8:13,14).

This is the same goal as the socialists, but the method of achieving the goal is different. Socialists use compulsory taxation to transfer income and wealth from the rich to the poor. This makes the rich angry and leaves the poor still poor.

God also wants equality, but his way is by sharing. The theme of the entire chapter is not compulsory redistribution, but generosity and sharing.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. (2 Cor 8:3-5).

Paul’s is a radical vision. He believed that if Christians grabbed hold of this sharing concept, the result would be equality. We are a long way from Paul’s vision, because we have not understood that sharing our wealth is the normal response to Jesus death on the cross. Generous sharing should be normal for Christians.

Caring for the poor must always be voluntary. God does not force us to do good, so sharing must always be free choice.

Christian love produced a radically different attitude to possessions. Instead of being something to enjoy, they were seen as a gift from God to be used to strengthen the Church.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them (Acts 4:32-34).

Christians like Barnabas responded to the gospel by selling their property and giving to those in need (Acts 4:36-37). There was not compulsion. All this giving was voluntary.

The story of Ananias and Saphira is well known, but we often miss the point of incident. It does show the dangers of lying to God, but more important, it shows that giving and sharing must always be voluntary. Peter’s words are important.

Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? (Acts 5:3,4).

Peter’s key point is that Ananias’s land belonged to him before he sold it. The money belonged to him after he had sold it. He was under no compulsion to give anything. He could have kept the whole value of the property for himself without condemnation.

Christian sharing must always be a free response to the love of Jesus. The motivation must be compassion, not condemnation. Sharing must always be voluntary. It must motivated by love and not by peer pressure. Demanding that someone share is always unacceptable. Charity is a privilege, not a right.