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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

    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...

    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.
  3. Sketcher

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

    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

    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

    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 Supporter

    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....

    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

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

    TheyCallMeDave At your service....

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

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

    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

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

    barryrob Junior Member

    Jehovahs Witness

    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.​

  13. Anand Prabhu Antony

    Anand Prabhu Antony New Member

    Lord Jesus Christ said two things to the rich man
    1. Matt 19:17: "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."
    2. Matt 19:21: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor.."

    Getting perfect is different from just entering life into heaven. That rich man asked our Lord Jesus, is anything am still lacking apart from abiding the ten commandments. So, there are different levels of reward from God according to our works done in this earth.

    If we wants to be perfect we have to become like Apostles, who kept Lord's words in their lives. like Peter say's in Matt 19:27 : "Behold, we have left everything and followed You.."

    Acts 3:6 -Peter says, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk".

    Apostle Barnabas in Acts 4:37 -"who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet".

    In Luke 12:21, it says that whoever stores up riches for himself is not rich toward God.

    In Matt 6:19-20, Jesus says -"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth..., But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.."

    Revelation 22:12
    "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be".

    According to our works we will have our reward from God. So, The Salvation is free but that is not enough. Growing to be rich in heaven is also matters. We got the free ticket to heaven, but the value of seat will be given only according to our works. Its in our hands to get rich in heaven or not.

    Jesus said it as literal. Let us try to abide more in Lord's words and Apostolic tradition.

    Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
    Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

    1John 3:16-18
    We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.…

    James 4:17
    "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin".

    Mark 12:41-44
    Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

    James 2:15-17
    If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

    Philippians 4:8
    Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

    Praise God.
  14. Hawkins

    Hawkins Member Supporter

    You should donate everything you have and follow Christ. This is almost in legal terms. Humans in Africa are dying of hunger on a daily basis, you should thus give all your money to save their lives. However, we simply can't. We prefer spending money on surfing the net instead of put them on a life-saving purpose.

    This shows that we are all hardhearted to no longer follow God's Law written in our hearts. It also shows that we won't pass the judgment of Law. Only God's Grace through Jesus Christ can save us.

    Revelation 12:10 (NIV)
    Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

    For the moment we have to accept that we cannot fulfill what the Law might have expected from a perfect person.

    Matthew 19:21 (NIV)
    Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
  15. BeStill&Know

    BeStill&Know Well-Known Member Supporter

    My only comment is, Jesus said, the poor you will always have with you.
  16. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    I guess I'm in accord with what others have said in one way or another. Christ had a way of illustrating a point by challenging his listeners to be genuine rather than merely seeking to meet the minimum of what they considered to be a religious obligation.

    We make a mistake if we do not see this mildly prodding style in his remarks. That is to say, they apparently were intended to make the other person "look himself in the mirror," as we'd word it these days.
  17. orangeness365

    orangeness365 Well-Known Member

    I agree with what has already been said. Jesus said if you want to be perfect then sell everything, not if you want to go to heaven, then sell everything. If you sell everything and end up on the streets, then you end up having to beg for money from others. Of course if you do you will be like the women that gave everything. But also remember that God wants us to work diligently and be dependent on no one. I can't really tell you what to do, I'm still dependent on my parents and old.

    1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
    9Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
  18. LaSorcia

    LaSorcia INFJ Staff Member Trainee Supporter

    I have a hospitality ministry. That would be pretty tough to do if I didn't have spare rooms and things to provide hospitality to others! There are other verses, especially in Acts, where it says the Christians shared all things in common with each other. If everyone had sold all of their stuff, they'd all be poor and have nothing to help each other with. I try to keep an attitude of stewardship rather than ownership, and I try to view my resources as being there for others in need, not just my enjoyment.
  19. Benjamin caughman

    Benjamin caughman Member

    Yo this teaching is totally for us, infact my wife and I did so together. I have found that through the past two years I have experianced faith like few have. I am with him always closer to me then I am my self. Words do not put into justice what he has in store for us. The Apostles and early Christians all underwent this tradition so that they could practice the way, undergoing a true spiritual awakening and alowing them to minister into all the nations. Have faith, he has you, don't worry about your clothes or food even your own life, for seek the kingdom before all else and all these things and more shall be added unto you.
    I suggest going out and ministering and be ministered to, understand who the poor really are, go help them. He has inspired you unto the truth friend.
  20. 98cwitr

    98cwitr Lord forgive me Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

    Luke 6:24-26 New International Version (NIV)

    24 “But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
    25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
    Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
    26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.