Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Banking on Half-Truths

I have heard several christians over the years use verses out of context throughout scripture in an effort to back up their own actions and beliefs.  In fact, I'd be surprised if I haven't done the exact same thing at some point.  If I do, please challenge me on it!  Otherwise, I'll never learn nor be the wiser.

However, for now, I want to look briefly at this passage (Deuteronomy 15:1-11) ending in verse 11 with: "(t)here will always be poor people in the land. (NIV)"  I have heard this quoted to me probably four times over the past few years.  And in each context the christian was using this verse as an example of why we shouldn't be concerned with the poor.  That they will always be around us, they will always be in need, so even if we give today, tomorrow they'll still have need.  So why bother?

I get that.  I get that because I and definitely the people who have said this, think that I have better uses for my money than to give it to a person who will use it less wisely than I will.  Right.  As if using it to buy food to simply survive is not as wise as any other possible thing you can do with money.

But as much as this poor perspective on reality drives me nuts, it is not the point I want to make.

Instead, let's continue with the next section of the verse in which I have never heard completed or recited by any of these same people who quoted the first half (this says a lot about how we do things.  We get half-truths memorized and locked down; just enough truth to be an outright lie and casting us down a path we shouldn't tread).  "There will always be poor people in the land.  Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land (NIV)."  Or put it another way, "there will always be some Israelites who are poor and in need, and so i command you to be generous to them.(GNT)"

So, instead of using the first half as a scapegoat to not give generously (even in the 7th year when you know you won't receive any of the loan back in return), we must read the entire verse and realize we are commanded to give simply because there is need. 

Moral of the day: Don't bank on half-truths.  Dig a little deeper.

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