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Sell all possessions and give to poor?

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by STW13, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. STW13

    STW13 Newbie

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    Greetings all.

    I have been researching and studying Christianity for a short while, and something that I'm confused about is the statement to sell all possessions and give to the poor. I am not a born again Christian, but I am seeking truth at this point in time, so hopefully someone can help me make some sense out of this.

    Before I begin, I do want to make it clear that I have searched this forum and read various threads in regards to this subject, but I'm still confused. I'm using the KJV bible.

    Luke 12:33: Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

    Did Jesus mean to literally sell all of your possessions and give to the poor? There are various verses in the NT that reinforce this. Jesus told the young rich man that he could not be his disciple if he did not sell all of his possessions and follow him.

    I'm far from a "rich" man. In fact, I live in a small 2 bedroom house that I got for 25k on foreclosure, I'm living on minimum wage, I own 2 cars, one of them being a 1934 Ford A model that I restored in my teens and the other being a 2003 Ford Taurus. I have basic cable TV(cheapest), 1.5meg internet service, 1 laptop. one iPod, a cellphone, and I own a DVD player and various DVDs. I try to live as cheaply as I can, and I donate what I have(if i have) left to local charities.

    From the threads I've read regarding this, a lot of people said only if "God" tells you to sell your possessions, so my question is how do I know God is telling me to sell my things? I don't value my things a whole lot, I use them, I enjoy them, but not obsessed in any sense of the word with them as I could do without them, but they do bring me a form of pleasure.

    I've already set up a will just in case something happens to me. My house and Ford Taurus is going to my sister, while my Ford A Model is going to my younger cousin who likes it. As far as I'm concerned, they already own them, I'm just using them.

    I'm not feeling guilty about any of things I own. It's just I can't get any sense out of that quote from Luke 12:33. If I was to become a born again Christian, am I to retract the will and sell the possessions and give the money away? If I don't and leave things the way they are, am I going to hell? Am I to do away with TV/Internet and donate that money to the poor? Can I not be a true disciple of Christ unless I do this?

    That about covers my concerns here. I'm sorry for the rant, but I really hope some can help me out here. Is the verse not to be taken literally? Am I to enjoy the things I have but not let them own me?

    LOL I'm not sure how I managed to confuse myself so bad with this. Thanks in advance for any help, it is truly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  2. contango

    contango ...and you shall live...

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    That instruction was given to one person at one particular time. I believe the point Jesus was making wasn't that every single person should sell all they have and give the money to the poor but that money can so easily become something that distracts us from God, something that can take the primary place in our lives to the extent we serve money rather than God. I believe that is why Jesus also said what he did about trying to serve money and God - it doesn't mean that you can't work a secular job while being a Christian but at some point we may have to choose between the two. The more material wealth you have the easier it is to trust in gold than God.

    If God calls you to do something specific I believe he will make it sufficiently clear, and that "sufficiently clear" will be appropriate to the situation. To give you an example some years ago I had a dream in which I walked through a passageway near where I live and saw a young girl begging. In my dream I gave her 50p (about 80c for US readers) and she expressed more gratitude than I had expected for my gift. Two days later I was walking down that exact passageway and saw a young girl begging. I had a 50p coin in my pocket so I gave it to her, and her response let me know instantly I'd done the right thing. Had that been nothing to do with God the outcome would have been that I was down 50p needlessly. I'm not going to go hungry over 50p so it's not worth worrying about.

    On another occasion a man visited my church to discuss the mission work he was doing and part of what he said related to some fundraising they were doing. Almost immediately I felt God telling me to give a specific amount. Since the man in question was going to be around for some weeks I didn't need to do anything right there and then so I asked God to make it very clear if that was what he was truly saying. When I got home and discussed it with my wife, out of the blue she suggested the exact same figure. The precise figure isn't relevant here (it was more than 50p!) but the confirmation made it pretty clear that it was indeed God guiding me.

    I think you've summed up your own post pretty well in that you can enjoy the things you have (the things God has given you to enjoy) but if they come between you and God then there's a problem. If you'd rather have material possessions than God don't be surprised if, just like the rich man in the passage you quoted, Jesus lets you walk away and have what you chose.
     
    shanethetheologian likes this.
  3. Sketcher

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

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    That's not instruction to sell everything, but rather to sell your excess. Similarly, John the Baptist preached:

    "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." - Luke 3:10-11

    And my pastor's paraphrase to live by is, "Live simply, so others can simply live."
     
  4. Girder of Loins

    Girder of Loins Future Math Teacher

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    Do not store up treasures on earth, where moths and rust and thieves will destroy them. Rather, store your treasures up in Heaven, where they will last for eternity. One doesn't have to sell anything or not have anything, but one cannot make them treasures. You don't keep you Model A(sick car, BTW) when you die. So don't keep it as a treasure. Like you said, you use these things, not worship them.
     
  5. Bear.Fr00t

    Bear.Fr00t Fruit Inspector

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    Jesus is pointing to a matter of the heart - that if you are greedy you have a heart problem that needs adjusting . If you are focused on worldly things, you will not focus on spiritual things. However, ff you believe in Jesus, and things eternal, then you don't have an issue giving away your wealth because what matter is eternal (heaven) not temporary (earth).

    Check out Mark 10:17-19. Here Jesus tells a rich man to sell his goods and follows Him. But the rich man is unable, because of the greed in his heart. However, it's important to notice what Jesus tells His confused disciples after the encounter. "With God, all things are possible." So even though the rich man was unable to part with his possessions, God is able to save the rich man and bring him to heaven through the sacrifice of His son Jesus which covers all sins, including greed.
     
  6. bling

    bling Regular Member

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    Context, context, context and context are what you need to interpret any scripture.

    The whole New Testament is addressed to particular people or sometimes even a person and are not general teachings.

    This particular young man is being asked to follow Jesus while Jesus is still alive on earth really to join the 12, but what kind of people make up the 12 at this time? Are there any Paul like disciples in the group (highly educated and extremely smart)? Are there any other rich members of the group? When you put a group together to mentor there are lots of advantages to have them all at similar levels in wealth, age and experience.

    What will shortly be happening to these 120 disciples? They will be severely persecuted fleeing to other cities quickly with no money. If the rich person has a lot of possessions when persecution hits what will he do and would it be better for him not to have those possessions?
     
  7. TheyCallMeDave

    TheyCallMeDave At your service....

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    Jesus said this to a very rich man who had plenty of excess, servants, and opulence ; what Jesus was doing was hitting the Man where it hurts the most as far as his allegiance is concerned. Jesus asks us all to surrender whats vitally important to us that we've made 'a god' or idol out of , for, it is God alone that deserves that sort of unrestricted heartfelt devotion and not things or other people in our lives. Jesus said this to the rich man to make a point, for, he didnt ask it of anyone else before or afterwards. Its not iron clad mandatory to sell all you have and give to the poor.

    Other things in our lives that Jesus IS asking us to give up from making an idol over might be : Immoral pleasures such as casual sex, swindling people, being grossly self centered , making an Idol out of someone dear to you on earth, being consumed with money making , etc... Jesus asks us to 'carry out crosses' in this life which in large part means to willfully worship and love God with ALL our heart, mind, soul, strength, and non-competing devotion . And rightly so considering who he is and what hes already done for us thru Christ being crucified to set us free of our lifestyle sins and to have all sins forgiven . Total surrender to his lordship and kingship in our lives is the appropriate act of worship ... a returning of his love back to him thru our devotion, honoring, and living for him. If we do , then the things he has in store for us once we reach Heaven will far exceed the temporary things that this brief life has to offer / 1 Corinthians 2:9 . Plus, we will spare ourselves a tremendous amount of self inflicted pain, anxiety, and trouble from Us doing life OUR way. These are only the beginning of what we can have when we recieve and make Christ our lovingly Leader.
     
  8. salida

    salida Veteran

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    No he didn't. The rich man loved his material things too much so it was an idol.
     
  9. TheyCallMeDave

    TheyCallMeDave At your service....

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    My reply in Post number 7 says exactly this . Please re-read the first paragraph in my reply.
     
  10. Sketcher

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

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    The passage the OP brought up isn't even about the rich young man. He was a special case, Luke 12:33 is the general instruction.
     
  11. Steve Petersen

    Steve Petersen Senior Veteran

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    Give it a whirl. Let us know how it works out for ya.
     
  12. barryrob

    barryrob Junior Member

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    Jesus Christ urged his disciples: “Sell the things belonging to you and give gifts of mercy. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, a never-failing treasure in the heavens, where a thief does not get near nor moth consumes. For where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.” (Luke 12:33, 34) Thus, there should be a willingness to use one’s time and assets to benefit others in which Jesus set the example. Manifestly, Jesus did not mean that his disciples reduce themselves to poverty and thereafter depend on the charity of others. The Biblle says at 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 "In fact, also, when we were with YOU, we used to give YOU this order: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” For we hear certain ones are walking disorderly among YOU, not working at all but meddling with what does not concern them. To such persons we give the order and exhortation in [the] Lord Jesus Christ that by working with quietness they should eat food they themselves earn."


    So we have to make our living to support ourselves and that we are in a postions to offer help when and were we are able to according do so according to our circimstances. Jesus disciples are willing to part with possessions to aid persons in real physical or spiritual need.

    The spirit of Jesus’ counsel is well illustrated when Paul instructed Timothy to tell wealthy Christians. We read: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Tim. 6:17-19)​

    We can use or matreal things to help others, we cannot do that if we reduce ourselves to poverty.​

    rob​
     
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