Archives for posts with tag: Tim keller

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve taken a screenshot of Deuteronomy 24.17-22 so that you can see how often the word “sojourner” suddenly appears in the text.  The word can also be translated “alien, stranger, foreigner, or resident alien.”  It refers to the people living in Israel who were not Hebrew.  These were immigrants or aliens residing in the land and they were very often poor.  Notice how God’s heart and concern were for the alien, and he wanted the people to be for them also because they had once been foreigners themselves in the land of Egypt.

Notice also that they were grouped together with the fatherless and the widow.  The reason for this is that orphans and widows, along with resident foreigners, were often the most financially vulnerable in the country.  This was the position of Naomi and Ruth when they returned from Moab after the great famine.  Indeed, Ruth herself went out and gleaned grain left over from those who had harvested the crop so that she and Naomi could survive.

The point of all this is that the most vulnerable in society should be the ones that the people were most concerned about.  We see this same concern in the New Testament as well.  One of the instructions that we see again and again there is to remember the poor.

How we remember the poor and how we serve them is a matter for our own wisdom and creativity to figure out in our particular culture.  Tim Keller has written an excellent book on that particular subject that is well worth reading.  That we remember and serve the poor, is not a subject for debate because this is one of the clear commands of Scripture, and something we see practiced throughout the Bible.

 

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For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” (Deuteronomy 15:11, ESV)

God’s heart is for the poor and needy.  He tells the Israelites that there will always be poor in the land and in light of that fact his commandment is that his people open wide their hands to those who are in need, a clear instruction to pay attention to the plight of those who need help and then help them.

The application of this principle is where we run into difficulty.  Do we keep giving to those who act irresponsibly?  To those who are trolling for free cash and know that churches give to the poor?  To those who would waste money on thinks like alcohol and drugs?

Tim Keller lays out a really good principle here:  Let mercy limit mercy.  It is not wise to aid and abet an alcoholic so to refuse to give him money is an act of mercy, you are preventing him from continuing in sin (or at least attempting to do so), thereby allowing mercy to limit mercy.

Having said that, Keller also recommends that at first we be quick to be generous.  My own tendency is not to be quick being generous but to be slow to be generous.  I need work in this area to overcome this natural bent.

For you will not bow in worship to another god, for ‘Yahweh Is Jealous’ is his name, he is a jealous God,” (Exodus 34:14, LEB)

Well!  What are we to make of this particular verse?  Aren’t we more or less warned over and over again not to be jealous, and yet here the text boasts that “the Lord is jealous,” indeed that is his name!?!

Tim Keller has an excellent sermon (one of my all-time favorites!) on just this topic.  If I may do a poor job of summarizing for Mr. Keller he says that, in this case, God is jealous for his own children as a faithful spouse is jealous to preserve his/her marriage with a partner who is drifting away from love and faithfulness.  This is a good jealousy.  It is a jealousy that fights to preserve a love relationship in which the other partner (us!) is losing his own love and commitment to the relationship.

Mr. Keller does a much better job of explaining: