Equitable Distribution of Resources
God told Moses that the promised land was to be distributed according to the relative size and needs of the various tribes: 'To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one' (Nu 26:54). In this way, socioeconomic equity was ingrained in the DNA of Israel's agrarian economy. Biblical scholar Craig L. Blomberg observes, 'The ideal contrasts markedly with arrangements in other feudal kingdoms near Canaan in that day, in which by far the more common pattern was the concentration of vast tracts of land among the royal and aristocratic elites, leaving a majority of the people in considerable poverty.'
Similarly, when we look to the New Testament, the book of Acts provides an outstanding example of how the equitable distribution of resources became an important characteristic of the early church (see Ac 2:42-47; 4:32-37). Today the same principle should govern our financial decisions. Second Corinthians 9:11 tells us that God makes us rich in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion. Thus, distributing resources equitably means recognizing the fact that in God's economy he equips some with more so that they can bless others who have less. Pastor Stephen Olford (1918-2004) clarifies this idea of 'sharing the load' in giving:
“Such teaching does not in any way support either the Marxist idea of communism or the kind of giving that encourages luxury or laziness in the recipient. Equality in giving teaches that while it is the responsibility of the rich to bear their share of the load, the poor are not excused from proportionate responsibility.”
Olford continues by adding this limitation, based on 2 Corinthians 8:13-14:
“Paul warns, however, that equality in giving should not cause the saints in one area to be eased while givers become burdened. The Jerusalem saints were not to enjoy plush seats while the Corinthian Christians sat on hard benches. On the contrary, there should be wisdom and a sense of balance in the matter of sharing the resources of a local church.”
Olford maintains that we are also to be gracious receivers when it becomes necessary:
“Some people will not accept gifts lest they should be obligated to the donors. This, in Paul's view, is unethical (see 2 Co 8:13). We should gratefully receive all that God gives us through our brethren because the time may come when we must reciprocate. This truth was not for Corinth only; it is relevant today! Today we may have abundance and tomorrow we may be in want. Today we may live in luxury and tomorrow we may suffer need. Today we may have the privilege of giving and tomorrow we may have the equal privilege of receiving.”
As you read through today's Scripture please reflect on the following questions: what is one way in which you are rich, and how do you share your riches with others?