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Archive for August, 2015

YHWH hears the cry of the poor. So must you.

This, in a nutshell, is the utterly realistic instruction of one core feature of biblical wisdom. Occasionally, self-interest is invoked.

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. (Proverbs 21:13 ESV)

One unanswerable query that can be directed at the biblical ethic is this: Are we to understand that YHWH supernaturally intervenes to enact the consequences of generosity and stinginess upon the life of their perpetrator? Or are we to accept that we are all constructing culture where the practices we employ will in time circle back to bless us or crush us? (more…)

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Knowing precisely who we are is the key to spiritual versatility.

A solid core renders possible myriad accommodations without sliding over into hypocrisy. The apostle Paul was so seized by his encounter with Christ, so anchored ‘in Christ’, that he could walk the walk and talk the talk of all kinds of human beings.

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:20–23 ESV)

Perhaps followers of Jesus worry overmuch about ‘acting out of our gifting’, of ‘being true to ourselves’. (more…)

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Early or instant wealth lies heavily on the shoulders of those who acquire it.

Something venomous lurks in abundance without labor, status unearned, riches without long-sown tears.

An estate quickly acquired in the beginning will not be blessed in the end. (Proverbs 20:21 NRSV)

It is unclear whether the Proverbialist’s words ‘quickly acquired’ suggest an inheritance too hotly pursued by a young man who should have remained content to wait or, alternatively, fortune that simply falls unexpected upon its recipient. Odds favor the latter, for this interpretation does not require more precision than the words themselves offer up. (more…)

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You could call the apostle Paul mad, but you cannot call him soft.

Paul’s understanding of his life’s purpose prioritizes struggle. Not for Paul the vague notion that ‘I am doing what God wants because I have peace.’ One wonders whether he would scoff at such palaver, roll his eyes, or simply move kindly and firmly to correct the person who speaks it. (more…)

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