Irrational giving: Shouldn’t Christians sell everything they have and give it to the poor?

In a discussion following my post about “How bad preaching leads to financial ruin”, I was reminded of the widow in 1 Kings 17 (among other passages) and asked to reconcile it’s apparent teaching that followers of God should be prepared to make illogical financial decisions.

First, I reject the notion that the widow in 1 Kings 17 was acting against sound reason. Her instruction came from a confirmed prophet of God. In fact, I would argue that there is good reason to think that the story is advocating the financial blessings that could accrue to those who trust the Word of God even in the midst of hard times.

Its not much different than how Joseph interpreted the vision regarding the famine and then instructed the Egyptian people. Presumably the people were not blind and saw the storehouses being built in anticipation of the hard times ahead (something we should keep in mind) and they also presumably knew of the vision Joseph was acting on. And yet they failed to follow the advice Pharaoh followed and, instead, ended up running out of sustenance and having to sell all they had just to survive.

While it is true that God, thought the Bible, speaks of being willing to do sell everything and follow Christ, it also speaks of being willing to hate your father and mother in favor of following Christ. Yet no one here, I hope, would seriously argue that hating our father and mother is a requisite for following Christ.

We should be willing to give up all we have to follow Christ. But we should recognize that such giving is generally done in the course of day-to-day life and not all at once in an emotional moment of euphoria.

We should also keep in mind that persecution is where most Christians are asked to give the most. And it is only the ones who have planned ahead, like the virgins awaiting the return of the groomsman, who will have anything to offer.

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