Gifts and Ministry

From Dave Black Online:

Brother Jason’s message today from Acts 4-5 was a wonderful reminder to me that the church needs to be generous at all times, not just when disaster strikes. What an encouragement — and warning! — this passage must have been to the early church, and what a strong exhortation it could bring to many in our own day. Our American churchianity often puts our needs and comforts above those of others. Our culture is smug and self-centered. Jesus insisted that His followers care for the vulnerable. That, after all, is how He lived.As Jason was speaking, my mind wandered (sorry, Jason!) to another passage that speaks about generosity, namely James 1:17. In church I happened to have the NET Bible with me (along with my Latin and Greek, of course), and I was delighted to see how Dan Wallace & Co. had rendered this verse: “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above….” Fantastic! This verse contains a great but often overlooked truth: Not only do our gifts ultimately come from God Himself, but even our desire to give — our propensity to be generous, if you will — is the product of God’s grace at work in our lives. This truth is masked, of course, in the NIV’s rendering, “Every good and perfect gift is from above….” What a horrible conflation of the two different Greek words here for “gift.” (The NIV, to be acceptable here, simply needed to add a note giving the literal. Sadly, it often fails to do that.)

All of which means that I can take no credit either for what I give or for the desire to give it!

Dave Black is the author of The Jesus Paradigm and Christian Archy from Energion Publications as well as numerous other books.  This extract is used with his kind permission.