'Generous without limits'
"Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21
“A central point in Luke’s proclamation of the kingdom is the presentation of Jesus as benefactor, based on this proclamation in 4:16-19, with strong overtones of the Jubilee year renewal. A return to a situation of equality and justice for all, however, required a reversal of the present situation. Luke describes this reversal primarily in terms of socioeconomic relations within Jewish society, the relations between the rich and the needy, the powerful and the weak. Thus, Luke envisages a reversal that implied a central, forced redistribution of goods and possessions, prophetically forewarned in the Magnificat (1:51-53). This reversal was an act of God, and the divine redistribution was manifested through the acts and speeches of Jesus, the benefactor of humanity (6:20-26; 7:22; 9:1-16; 10:1-12).
This divine act served as the foundation for a new interaction among individuals and groups, likewise based on generalized reciprocity and redistribution. It was prophetically demanded by John the Baptist (3:10-14) and followed up by Jesus in words addressed both to His disciples and to His adversaries… People with resources are urged to be generous without limits. They are involved in a situation with great differences in power and resources, and they are asked to perform redistribution. The main characteristic, however, is the emphasis upon no expectance of repayment when they lend money or show hospitality (6:34-35; 14:12-14). The same structure is found in the exhortations to give… This emphasis upon no expectance of a return is balanced, however, by a promise of return and generous rewards from God…
Nowhere, however, are the needy urged to trust the rich. On the one hand, those who have resources are urged to give to the needy, but without expecting a return; God will see to the reward. On the other hand, the needy are urged not to trust the wealthy to give them what they need, but God who is the source of all gifts, as well as the daily necessities for human subsistence. What is the outcome of this form for exchange in terms of social relations? To give without expecting a return means to interact in such a way as not to make the recipients one’s clients! … In Luke’s “economy of the kingdom,” human beings cannot play the role of a patron in its traditional form. Instead they are asked to give gifts without restrictions, to redistribute without making the recipients their clients. Similarly, the recipients are not bound in gratitude or loyalty to the wealthy who give them gifts. God is the only patron; consequently, all people are His clients. And God will give rewards and repay the wealthy for their gifts to others.”
Halvor Moxnes in The Economy of the Kingdom: Social Conflict and Economic Relations in Luke’s Gospel (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 1988) 154-157.
Today I fly home after a fruitful time of service in Canada. My daily study that results in mediations always seems to leaven, in God’s providence, my teaching and speaking beyond the preparation I have done. For example, Jubilee continues to come up because it characterizes life in the kingdom. Jesus, our benefactor, resets all social and economic relations and commands us to follow His instructions in order to grasp life. Those who empty themselves find they are enriched. They learn their role as distributors of God’s abundance.
So why is generosity without limits so hard for us to grasp? At the core, our handling of money shows whether or not we trust God to supply or needs or whether we trust in ourselves. Some might desire to slide into the kingdom by acknowledging Jesus as Lord while also exhibiting an unwillingness to trust in God to supply. I will leave such issues as their eternal destiny for to God to sort, but what I can promise is that such slothful stewardship will not result in rewards. We must live like we believe God is our faithful patron. Be generous without limits. Count on eternal rewards!
Do this, and you will thank me in 100 years and in 100 million years. If you don’t, you will regret it in 100 years and still be kicking yourself in 100 million years. How can I be so bold to say that? The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus reveals that the time to make obedient stewardship decisions, the time to redistribute to the poor and be generous without limits is right now (Luke 16:19-31). Those who don’t will experience and express perpetual regret. Don’t delay. I am not trying to rob you. I want to help you grasp the life that is really life.
kurios M firstname.lastname@example.org
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