Thursday, February 15, 2007

Show, Don't Tell

Deuteronomy 15:4-6 (New International Version)
4 However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

This week I read an article on Christian Conflict Resolution. In fact I read it more than once as I had a specific need to be reminded of the principles.

One of the things that struck me was the advice to "act in the opposite spirit." The writer of the article said that if a person was stingy, to be generous to them. He said if someone was full of hate and anger--to show them love, and so on. In other words, the article was saying, we should be generous to others, and even more so to those who least deserve it.

Then I happened to read Deuteronomy 15 and found it full of commands to be generous to others. It's all about freeing servants and canceling debts. God's ways are not about giving people what they deserve. I love that it doesn't just talk about generous actions, but generous hearts. Verse 9 says,"Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing." That shows me that God is very aware of our potential--even likelihood of calculated caring.

Our natural bent is not to be open-handed and open-hearted to people who may take advantage of that. But what an opportunity we have every day, to demonstrate God's grace and kindness. What an opportunity to preach a powerful sermon without words.

As a writer I am learning the art of "showing" instead of "telling." I think there's something in that for us as Christ followers too.

Matthew 5:38-42 (New International Version)
An Eye for an Eye
38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (New International Version)
10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

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