Burdens Not Optional

I was convicted today by a good article in the December 2008 Themelios journal.  Here it is:

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/publications/33-3/the-gospel-and-the-poor

In this article, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York, is referring to St. Paul’s teaching in Galatians 6:2 (encouraging us to “bear one another’s burdens) and to Jonathan Edwards’ discourse, Christian Charity, when he says:

“Those who give to the poor out of a desire to comply with a moral prescription will always do the minimum. If we give to the poor simply because ‘God says so,’ the next question will be ‘How much do we have to give so that we aren’t out of compliance?’ That question and attitude shows that this is not gospel-shaped giving. In the last part of his discourse, Edwards answers the objection ‘You say I should help the poor, but I’m afraid I have nothing to spare. I can’t do it.’ Edwards responds,

In many cases, we may, by the rules of the gospel, be obliged to give to others, when we cannot do it without suffering ourselves . . . else how is that rule of bearing one another’s burdens fulfilled? If we never be obliged to relieve others’ burdens, but when we can do it without burdening ourselves, then how do we bear our neighbor’s burdens, when we bear no burdens at all?

I physically recoiled when I read this for I fall squarely in that category of folks who want to control how we give, manage the experience of sacrifice, and limit burden-bearing to something akin to signing up to carry someone’s Hello Kitty pink purse when the other needs me to help them roll a Sisyphian boulder up Mt. Rushmore, right over Lincoln’s craggy nose.

I’m willing to be willing to be changed. God help me.

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