June 21, 2021
The Proper 8B Sermon Starters include commentary and illustration ideas for Mark 5:21-43 from the Lectionary Gospel; 2 Samuel 1:1,17-27 from the Old Testament Lectionary; Psalm 30 from the Lectionary Psalms; and 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 from the Lectionary Epistle.
Related Reformed confession: Lectionary Epistle: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103 (Lord’s Day 38)
Author: Scott Hoezee
Jesus was someone people wanted to touch and be touched by. But in the case of Jesus, such touches were about far more than the people’s desire to make contact with somebody famous. Jesus’ touch was said to have healing powers. As we can see in this story, some had concluded that Jesus was a type of magic object, a live wire who could give you a jolt of the divine whether he was aware of your touch or not.
It makes for a great story but notice how clever Mark was in composing it. Notice especially the role played by hands. Jairus does not simply ask Jesus to come and heal his daughter, he very specifically says, “Please come and put your hands on her.” In Mark’s gospel, Jesus has already performed any number of miracles that did not involve a physical touch. Yet Jairus very carefully requests the laying on of Jesus’ hands to bring about his daughter’s restoration.
As Jesus makes his way to Jairus’ house, a woman in the crowd touches Jesus to relieve her of a hemorrhage that had clearly consumed her life. So just after Jesus walks past her position in the larger crowd, she reaches out her hand, grabs a piece of his cloak, gives it a quick squeeze, and then lets go before she actually tugs on Jesus and so draws attention to herself. And she is instantly healed.
It’s surprising, isn’t it, that this method “works.” We ordinarily resist seeing Jesus as some kind of magic charm. We’d prefer to think that the miracles Jesus worked were done deliberately and as an act of his will. Reading this story for the first time, you wouldn’t expect this anonymous touching of Jesus to be effective. Yet it is.
Jesus notices that power had gone out from him, which is a curious way for Mark to put it. Lots of people were touching Jesus and jostling him at the time. Apparently none of them was tapping any divine power, however. That’s why the disciples are rather incredulous when Jesus asks, “Who touched me?” If you’ve ever been in a crowded elevator making room for still more people who want to get into the car, you know what this is like. Everybody is touching somebody as you all shuffle sideways and back to let someone in or out. In that situation it would seem odd to say, “Who touched me?” (Of course, that all was before we all became altogether too familiar with the oxymoron phrase of “social distancing”!!)
However, that question would make sense even in an over-crowded elevator in case you felt that someone was making a grab for the wallet in your back pocket or in case you had reason to believe someone was molesting you sexually. When you sense something beyond a typical jostle in the crowd, you ask about it.
In Mark 5 it’s the same for Jesus: someone had touched him with a purpose and that differentiated that touch from the general press of humanity that they were all enduring. So he asks about it. In 2008 I got to shake Barack Obama’s hand at a campaign event. Like others on the rope line, I had my hand extended but just as Obama got to me, he bent down to shake a little girl’s hand who was standing in front of me. Next thing I knew, my hand was right on top of the crown of Senator Obama’s head. As you can see in the picture I took just after this, I got quite the look from Obama’s Secret Service agent! Ordinary touching of the candidate’s hands drew no attention but this different (and unintended) touch got an agent’s attention! Some touches are different than others.
The woman in question is mortified. And I am using that word “mortified” deliberately. She is literally scared to death. You see, she didn’t belong in that crowd to begin with. She, too, had been forced to jostle with lots of folks as she jockeyed for position. What those other people didn’t know, however, was that according to Jewish law, every person who came into contact with this woman had been made ceremonially unclean. When I was young, the nature of her illness would have been described delicately by my mother as “a female problem.” Back when I was a kid, that was code for “Inquire no further.”
This woman had a condition that according to ancient law made her an outcast. For the good of all, she needed to remain far away from other people because so long as her problem persisted, she carried the contagion of unholiness. Touch this woman or be touched by her, and you couldn’t go to God’s Temple for a week. In other words, if it becomes known that she was putting the community at risk, she could be stoned to death. She’s been socially dead for a dozen years now and although people might feel bad about that, there wasn’t anything they could do about it. But if she could not quietly accept her socially mortified status, the community would have no choice but to remove her forcibly before she did more damage.
So when Jesus singles her out as having touched him with a purpose, her joy at having been healed turns to instant dread. Just as her life was about to begin anew, it looked like it might end. That is why she appears before Jesus with fear and trembling. She wasn’t afraid Jesus would rebuke her mildly by saying, “Next time ask first, OK?” The trouble she was in was far more grave than having been a tad presumptuous.
But to her credit, she tells what Mark describes as “the whole truth.” She could have lied, claiming she had sought healing for a bad cold or a sore back. But no, she admits the nature of her ailment and you can be well assured that the whole crowd had a collective sharp intake of breath. Suddenly every person there was wondering if he had rubbed shoulders with this woman. “Who knows how many people she had made unclean in the last ten minutes alone!” people no doubt began to murmur to one another.
But before the imminent panic got rolling, Jesus did an amazing thing: he called this woman “Daughter” and sent her away with a benediction. Jesus restored her to the community and so conveyed to everyone that the contagion of holiness that Jesus bore was now more powerful and more important than any potential contagion of unholiness that anyone else could possibly bear. And apparently it was enough to cleanse the whole crowd of people who had, technically, been ceremonially contaminated by her, too.
But that’s Jesus for you. Wherever he went he brought not only healing but he created again and again a whole new community, a whole new way to live together as sons and daughters of God.
Some years ago following the death of Pope John Paul II, the media ran many series of videos and photographs encapsulating the late pontiff’s career. Again and again what we saw in all that was the fact that no matter where the pope went, the one constant was the fierce desire people had to touch him. The New York Times published a particularly wonderful photo that showed this. It came from a visit the pope made to this country and specifically an appearance he made at a cathedral in Newark, New Jersey. The picture had been taken from the balcony and showed the pope from above and behind as he proceeded up the church’s center aisle. John Paul had both of his arms extended outward to the side. And from the pews lining the aisle were the extended hands of dozens of people stretching and reaching so that their hands could brush against one of his hands.
Recently we somberly marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and so were reminded that RFK exuded a similar attraction. According to Bobby Kennedy’s aides, there were many times after campaign appearances in 1968 when Bobby had to throw away his shirt. So many people clutched and clawed to touch him that Bobby’s hands would be scratched and a bit bloody even as his shirt sleeves became tattered to shreds.
Far better than just seeing someone—including someone powerful or famous—is to make contact. That’s something Jesus knew a lot about, too.
2 Samuel 1:1,17-27
Author: Stan Mast
This is a strange and tough text to preach on, until you look at it through the lens of our contemporary situation, particularly in America. One of the hard realities of this past year was “the presence of [our] enemies,” as David put it in his most famous Psalm.
Let me put this text in sharper focus by asking if you can imagine Donald Trump or Joe Biden singing the words of our text at the funeral of the other. That’s what we have here—a funeral dirge, a sung eulogy, an elegy. We live in a time when political opponents are minimized at least (think “Sleepy Joe” or “Crooked Hilary”) and demonized at worst, so that we see “the Others” as mortal enemies whose victory will mean the destruction of our whole society.
David didn’t look at his political opponents that way, certainly not Jonathan, the King’s son and heir to the throne God has promised to David, and not even Saul, the current, crazy King. Heaven knows that David has abundant reason to minimize and demonize Saul. There was a lot of tortured history between them, mostly from Saul’s side.
When we last saw David (in our reading last week from I Samuel 17), the new secretly anointed King David had defeated the Philistine giant and led the Israelite army in a rout of their enemies. Saul had taken David into his house and under his wing, where David and Jonathon became fast friends, one of the great biblical “bromances.”
Saul’s feelings about David soon changed. Driven by an obsessive jealousy, he became David’s mortal enemy, trying to pin him to the wall with a spear and then pursuing David all over the Promised Land in an effort to capture and perhaps kill him. This went on for months, even years. Our reading from the Psalms (130) today could be taken as David’s plea for deliverance as he ran for his life.
In the last chapter of I Samuel, Saul and Jonathan are locked in combat with the Philistines. Jonathon is killed outright and Saul is mortally wounded. As the Philistine close in for what would be a messy kill, he asks his armor bearer to kill him. When the terrified soldier refuses, Saul falls on his own sword. So, David’s worst enemy and closest friend lie dead on the mountain called Gilboa, unbeknownst to David.
David has been fighting the Amalekites who had plundered the town of Ziklag. In an alliance forged of necessity, David had joined forces with the Philistines and had utterly annihilated the Amalekites. Upon returning to Ziklag, David hears the news that his enemy (Saul) and his friend (Jonathan) have been killed by the Philistines.
Rather than breaking into a victory dance and singing “Happy Days are Here Again,” David breaks into tears, tears his clothes in mourning, kills the Amalekite who falsely claimed he had killed Saul, pens this funeral dirge, and teaches it to his entire army to be sung in perpetuity. I ask again. Can you imagine Trump or Biden or the Proud Boys or Antifa singing that song upon learning that their enemy and his family have died?
The way David refers to Saul is nearly incomprehensible, while his words about Jonathon are nearly embarrassing. He refers to both as “The Mighty.” Three times he wails, “How the Mighty have fallen.” He praises the military prowess of both in verses 22 and 23a. Beyond that he calls them “the glory of Israel,” and sings of the blessings they (and especially Saul) had brought to Israel (verse 24). In spite of all evil that Saul had done to David, David sings well of the dead, even as he curses the Philistines and the place where they killed Saul. Can you imagine Trump or Biden doing that? Can I imagine me doing that? How could David do it?
It is much easier to see why David would lament Jonathon’s death as he does, though the words he uses have raised all kind of questions about their relationship, especially in our sex crazed culture. Jonathon was like family to David; he calls him his brother. But David also speaks of Jonathon’s love, calling it “more wonderful than that of women.” In our culture, people have a difficult time imagining intimacy without sex, so these words sound like homosexual love.
But, given David’s lifelong proclivity for women and given the way Jonathon had expressed his love for David, that conclusion feels like an imposition of contemporary biases on an ancient text. Jonathon’s love had taken the form of self-sacrifice, not sex. He gave up his own claim to the throne to support David and literally saved his life on more than one occasion.
Some scholars explain the intimate wording of David’s song by pointing to the way women loved men in that ancient culture. That love was either for sex and procreation or for familial and political advantage (arranged marriages). There was little emotional support in that kind of love, claim these scholars, whereas Jonathon’s love for David was the kind of strong emotional bonding that occurs between men in combat type situations. For these reasons, we should not read sexuality into David’s expression of this brotherly love between himself and Jonathon.
It is more difficult to account for David’s grief over Saul’s passing, given all the grief Saul had brought on him. How can we explain it? Well, some scholars cynically say that David was simply covering his backside here. By expressing public grief David was astutely signaling that he had no role in Saul’s decline and demise. This was a political gesture, say these scholars. But once again, I think that is imposing our current political cynicism on an old story. Besides, there are better explanations of this inexplicable grief.
For one thing, as David says again and again in his encounters with Saul, he saw the mad King as “the Lord’s anointed” (II Samuel 1:14, 16, and I Samuel 24:6 and 26:9). David knew that God has chosen Saul and anointed him to be king. God himself had placed Saul in that exalted position, and David respected Saul for that very reason—for Yahweh’s sake. Thus, he never tried to take the crown from Saul’s head, even though God had also anointed David. He knew that he had to respect God’s will and timing. (There is an early echo of Romans 13 here.)
Of course, it is harder for us to grieve the decline and death of our enemies today because we don’t have the same direct assurance that God has anointed them, in spite of the certitude some Christians had about Donald Trump as God’s chosen one. Even with a Romans 13 perspective on our elected leaders, we feel free to not only oppose them, but also to rejoice when they fall. That is simply the reality of a democracy.
The only way we can be like David with respect to our enemies is to believe, as David apparently did, that God is providentially involved even in our conflicts. Patricia Dutcher-Walls puts it this way. “As modern readers, we might note David’s ability to see and trust a larger providence despite the current and clouded swirl of circumstances.” David knew that the Lord was with him each step of the way (I Samuel 16: 13). Even outside observers could see that (cf. I Samuel 16:18). Thus, to grieve our opponents as David did, we’ll need to believe that God is sovereign over their lives and even over what they have done to us. We can mourn for them because they are part of God’s plan.
But that is very hard to do when we see them as “Sleepy Joe” or “The Orange Head” or as agents of the Devil (as one evangelical preacher labelled the Democrats). The only remedy for such a situation is Jesus, who taught us very specifically to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us.
And if Jesus’ words of command are not enough to move us beyond our personal experience and our political affiliation, his life and death should be more than enough. As Paul put it in Romans 5:10, “when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son….” If God so loved us, we also should love one another—not only our beloved Jonathon’s, but also those bothersome, demented Saul’s.
As we strive to follow Jesus through Ordinary Time, enemies are a reality of life. God insists on “preparing a table before [us] in the presence of [our] enemies.” In our text for today, Jesus’ most famous ancestor shows us how Jesus’ followers should deal with the decline and fall of their worst enemies. If we did this, the world be a different place. Why, it might even begin to resemble the Kingdom of God, where the fallen mighty are praised to the highest heaven, for Jesus sake.
Author: Scott Hoezee
Psalm 30 is almost singularly upbeat in its incessant exaltations of God. But the discerning reader and preacher will notice that underneath all this praising there has been a history of pain. References are made to having gone down to the depths, to sinking into the pit, to enemies eager to gloat over the psalmist’s downfall, and even a reference to having been rescued from the grave. This psalmist has definitely been around. He’s been there and back again more than once.
If Psalm 30 is known for anything, it is probably the line in verse 5 about how weeping lasts but for a night “but joy cometh in the morning” (as the older translations had it). The idea of joy coming in the morning has resonated with Bible readers for millennia. It is a fine expression of an abiding hope. But from the looks of the psalm, “morning” is a loose term that almost certainly need not be interpreted to mean that every single season of grief lasts no more than 12 hours before relief comes and joy returns. This poet, like most believers, knows that the morning can sometimes be a long ways off.
It reminds me a bit of the COVID pandemic across most of 2020 and a good bit of this current year too. Pandemics don’t last forever and so deep down we all knew we would one day arrive at a post-pandemic moment. Initially a lot of us foolishly hoped it might be a matter of weeks. When things started to look serious the first part of March 2020, my wife and I decided we would be keeping our Spring Break plans for going to New Mexico the first week of April. Things might be better by then, right? Well, a couple weeks later we knew that was a no go and so changed our reservations and plane tickets to the middle of August because surely by then . . . Eventually we scrapped the whole thing and have not yet tried to make new plans.
We all suspected that post-COVID joy would come one morning but that morning kept getting pushed farther and farther into the future until we stopped even trying to pin our hopes to a certain date or season. But as that morning may now be dawning with vaccination rates rising and COVID cases declining and mask mandates being lifted, we know that it feels all the sweeter to eat at a restaurant again because it took so very long to get here.
Something of that dynamic is going on in Psalm 30 as well. Precisely because he had been cast down into the depths for a long while (and more than once) and because that morning when joy and rejoicing would come back took so long to arrive, now that he is in a better spot, his praise of God is that much more jubilant and enthusiastic. You have to have wailing for it to be turned into dancing and you have to have been in sackcloth for a while for it to be replaced with joy (verse 11). The unhappy presence of the sorrows leads to a more vibrant happiness when deliverance comes and God is once again seen as utterly faithful.
My neck of the theological woods is a Reformed one with a strong Calvinist influence. Those of us who are heirs of John Calvin’s theological tradition have often been caricatured as a rather gloomy lot. So much talk about sin and depravity and of how even our best works are but as filthy rags in God’s sight. The old barb about the Puritans is mostly overstated but not without at least a modicum of some historical backing: A Puritan is someone who worries that somewhere in the world someone is having a good time. Now, now, that’s not fair. Still, John Calvin could be relentless in his focus on sin and depravity. A distillate of a lot of Calvin’s thought can be found in the Reformed confessional document The Canons of Dort, and it’s not a cheery read.
But here is the thing: Calvin wanted to present sin as utterly monstrous in order to present salvation by grace as utterly majestic. You cannot appreciate the grandeur of grace and the wonder of divine election until you realize how bad things are without all that saving work of God through Christ. The light of God shines the brighter when we have a firm appreciation for how the darkness would overwhelm us were it not for God’s intervention.
Every once in a while we may run across someone who was the beneficiary of a tremendous gift. But it can also happen now and again that we find some such person only to discover that he seems to have no idea how amazing the gift he got actually was and is. His gratitude seems to be more on the level of being thankful that someone loaned him $5 when he really ought to be as grateful as if someone had donated a kidney to him. So we may take such a person aside to say, “I don’t think you have a clear picture of what happened to you so let me fill you in on a few things, pal.” Maybe you go on to sketch what his life would have been like without the gift, how bad off and destitute he could very well have ended up. You want to enhance his gratitude by sketching some scary and dark stuff that you hope will open his eyes to what has really taken place in his life.
So also our gratitude to God for his salvation and deliverance. If we ever find ourselves being nonchalant about all that, being grateful but, you know, not TOO grateful, then we need to know what the poet of Psalm 30 knew: our lives are lost to many pits of despair and finally to the grave itself if God does not do something to save us. Just open your eyes to what has really gone on and to what would actually be the case had things gone otherwise and you, too, will soon find yourself joining the exaltations of Psalm 30.
As I have noted before in other sermon commentary articles here on the CEP website, there is a poignant moment in the play and film Shadowlands, the story of C.S. Lewis’s late-in-life romance and marriage with the American Joy Davidman. Joy is the love of Lewis’s life but she also has a cancer that they both know will take her life sooner rather than later. Lewis had a hard time grappling with the cancer and was often minded to downplay it or try to ignore it. But at one point Joy tells her husband that the sorrow that will come later was part of the joy they had in being together for now. “That’s the deal” Joy says. Joy and sorrow have this quirky connection in which paradoxically the presence of the sorrow enhances the joy. And that is something the psalmist of Psalm 30 seems to have known about.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Author: Doug Bratt
This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s proclaimers come, in a sense, with hands outstretched as we speak on giving. Yet if we’re going to do so, we’d better come up with some good reasons.
So why should we preach or teach on what Paul calls “the grace of giving” (7b)? “What’s the matter?” some of our hearers may wonder as they hear this. “Do we have a budget deficit?”
Most Christians, I at least suspect, would prefer simply not to talk (or hear) about things like money and giving in church. What’s more, some suggest that the church already talks about money too much. So why should we proclaim what Paul calls “the grace of giving”?
Some biblical scholars lend credence to the church’s aversion to talking about money by suggesting that Paul didn’t actually write 2 Corinthians 8’s call for the grace of giving. They suggest that later editors added it as a kind of separate “business letter.” So why should we proclaim what Paul may not have even written in the first place on what our text calls “the grace of giving”?
Those who somehow proclaim this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson should begin by clearing up misconceptions about that proclamation. First, we should do what we can to disconnect it from any financial struggles our churches or other institutions may be experiencing. Giving is a grace even, or perhaps especially, when our institutions are flush with money.
Second, proclaimers should also insist that we’re not talking about giving to somehow shame our hearers into being more “gracious.” Paul, after all, isn’t trying to impose some new legalism about giving on the Corinthians to whom he writes. So we proclaim 2 Corinthians 8 with the prayers that the Holy Spirit will use it to help God’s adopted children grow in our desire to excel in the grace of giving.
Verse 1, as well as verse 7, suggests that giving is a “grace” that God gives. Yet they don’t refer to what we might call “saving grace.” Instead Paul seems to point here to what we might call a “virtue.” Apparently the apostle suggests that generous giving is a good characteristic for Jesus’ friends.
Yet by calling generous giving a “grace,” Paul implies that outside of God’s redeeming grace even the godliest people look out mainly or even only for our own interests and self-preservation. So God’s dearly beloved people want to give generously because it’s a virtue that God gives us. It’s a kind of gift from God that God expects us to apply in thankful response to God’s saving grace.
More fundamentally, however, Jesus’ friends want to excel in the grace of giving because it’s part of our grateful reception of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul tells the Corinthians in verse 9. “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Paul doesn’t seem to be alluding to Jesus’ earthly ministry’s poverty here. He doesn’t appear to primarily refer to Jesus’ status as a wandering preacher who had no place to call home. No, the apostle appears to be contrasting God the Son’s life in the heavenly realm with his life on earth.
After all, before his incarnation, God the Son was rich in every way. When the Holy Spirit conceived him in Mary, however, the second Person of the Trinity voluntarily surrendered virtually all that. While Jesus remained his Father’s equal, he traded heaven’s glory for the poverty that was a life of rejection, humiliation, betrayal and unjust execution.
The incarnate Son of God gave up virtually all he had that we might become what Paul calls “rich” in verse 9. After all, by his life, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has graciously brought us into fellowship with God. Our status as God’s children makes Jesus’ friends wealthy beyond imagining.
Yet through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ also graced his adopted siblings with the riches of a Christian community that’s full of new relationships. He has also given us an eternal inheritance that no stock market slide or economic slump can shrink.
Yet over the years I’ve sensed that those who excel in this grace of giving must battle a temptation toward smugness. Jesus’ friends’ giving of something like a tithe of our income may tend to make us feel self-righteous. I naturally look at others’ giving to the church, or the lack of it, and feel pretty self-satisfied.
I suspect that’s why Paul points us directly to Jesus’ generosity. We, after all, may be more generous than any other human being. So God’s adopted children learn what it really means to excel in the grace of giving only when we stand beneath Christ’s cross. Christians compare our giving, not to each other’s, but to Jesus Christ’s. His generosity is, as we sometimes sing, “so amazing, so divine” that it “demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Yet in spite of Christ’s impoverishment for our sakes, Paul doesn’t expect Jesus’ friends to give so much that we also impoverish ourselves. In verse 13 the apostle, instead, says, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed.”
So Paul’s chief concern is that all of God’s adopted children might know their heavenly Father’s material as well as spiritual blessings equally. The apostle simply wants us to at least have equal access to God’s material, as well as spiritual blessings.
At least some Christians insist that once we follow Jesus, all of our problems disappear. Others, however, suggest that Christianity solves only our deepest problems and creates a whole new set of problems for us. Doesn’t, after all, Paul’s insistence on economic equality among Christians create one of those new problems? How, with perhaps a billion Christians in the world, can God’s beloved people even begin to promote economic equality among them, to say nothing of the other billions of people?
Such problems for which there are few obvious solutions overwhelm and almost paralyze some Christians. That’s why it’s so critical that we, in a real sense, begin to excel in the grace that is giving right where we are. Jesus’ friends can’t alleviate all of the financial misery among all of the Christians in, for example, the Third and Fourth World. We can, however, by the power of the Holy Spirit, begin to create equality among God’s people in our own community.
However, this also points to a potential fundamental misunderstanding about our text. Preachers often use this passage to challenge people to give more faithfully to the church. Paul, however, seems to be talking far more directly about excelling in the grace of giving to help people who are materially poor within the church. So he largely calls Jesus’ friends, at least in this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson, to generously give to people who are materially poor.
Paul, however, may also embed a third motivation for excelling in this grace that is giving to the poor in verse 8. “I want to test the sincerity of your love,” Paul writes the Corinthians there.
While Christians talk much about love, the Bible also almost constantly challenges us to practice love. So a kind of measuring stick for the sincerity of Jesus’ friends’ love might be the size of our saving accounts and investment portfolios. The apostle might encourage those material resources’ size to reflect the grace that is giving, especially to the poor.
In verse 8 Paul goes on to introduce a concept with which 21st century North American Christians are perhaps both unfamiliar and uncomfortable. He challenges his hearers to compare our giving “with the earnestness of others.”
Paul seems to suggest that Jesus’ friends’ primary measuring stick for our giving is Jesus Christ. However, his extensive treatment of the Macedonians’ generosity implies that the Corinthians should also compare their generosity to theirs. They, according to verse 4, “urgently pleaded” with Paul for the “privilege” of sharing in collection for Jerusalem’s Christians. The Macedonian Christians basically begged Paul to let them have the favor of being generous with needy fellow believers.
So why did the Macedonians beg Paul for the privilege of supporting Jerusalem’s needy Christians? God has transformed their desires to make them exceptionally generous. As 2 Corinthians 8 proclaimers promote the grace that is giving, we pray that God will also transform our attitudes in a similar way, so that we too may desire to joyfully excel in the grace of generous giving.
Landon Parvin tells a story about a charity organization’s chairman’s visit to an infamous miser. “Sir,” the fund-raiser told him, “our records show that despite your wealth, you’ve never even once given to our drive.”
“Do your records show that I have an elderly mother who was left penniless when my father died?” the tightwad fumed. “Do your records show that I have a disabled brother who is unable to work? Do your records show that I have a widowed sister with small children who can barely make ends meet?”
“No, sir,” the embarrassed volunteer stuttered. “Our records don’t show those things.” “Well,” the miser huffed, “I don’t give to any of them, so why should I give anything to you?”