Monday, December 2, 2013

Thou Who Wast Rich -

I heard this Christmas hymn online on WKSU Holiday Classical.  Lately, I have been blogging about the heretical, charlatan Word of Faith teachings.  The "little god" doctrine of these teachers enables them to, without  a twinge of conscience it seems, take money even from poor people in order to live the lives of the rich and powerful.  It is shameful what they do.

Compare their lives of luxury to the life of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He really is God in flesh, but think about how He entered this world, and how He lived during the time of His humiliation.  What a difference!  Read the Gospels, and see for yourselves.

Listen to this hymn and think about the words.  It is based on part of 2 Corinthians 8:9, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, ..."

Notice that he did not start out poor and then make Himself rich by coming to earth. He is the Creator of everything, so everything is His by right.  However, He set all of that aside for our sake. He is the example of giving, not the example of how to make yourself rich at others' expense.  

There are wealthy people who spend great amounts of their fortunes helping those less fortunate.  They are rich, but they give so that others might also be cared for. There are many good charities that depend on the generosity of people, even wealthy ones.  It is best, though, to give to local charities or through your local church.  It is easier that way to see how people actually live and easier to track how the money is actually being used.  Do NOT send your money to the people on TV!  That goes for the Hollywood benefit productions, too, as well as the Red Cross, maybe.

It is not especially godly to be poor, or ungodly to be rich, but there are some obvious examples of people making themselves rich off the preaching of the Gospel, or off of other forms of charity work.

Anyway, here is the wonderful hymn Thou Who Wast Rich.:

Thou who was rich beyone all splendor
all for love’s sake becamest poor;
thrones for a manger didst surrender,
sapphire pave courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor, 
all for love’s sake becamest poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
all for love’s sake becamest man;
stooping so low, but sinners raising,
heav’nward by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
all for love’s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, we worship thee.

Frank Houghton, 1894 - 1972

Here is an article that gives more background for the writing of this hymn.  It was written in 1934 in China. 

Here is the context of the 2 Corinthians 2:9 text.  Notice that the offering being taken was for needy Christians.  They were not being encouraged to give to wealthy preachers so that those preachers could become more wealthy and live like kings and queens.  They were not being coerced into giving by some stranger. It was probably the first organized Christian relief effort, and many in the church responded generously. It was a one time offering to help the Christians in need.  

They were not encouraged to give what they did not have, either, but to be as generous as they were able.  It was a freewill offering as well, much like the freewill offerings of the Old Testament, it seems to me.  The wealth they would receive in exchange seems to be spiritual wealth, not particularly material.  

Our values are totally messed up when we think that giving to wealthy con-men and women on TV will somehow bring us material wealth as well.  That is definitely not Biblical teaching!   I can't imagine that any religion teaches  it's okay to do that kind of thing.   

2 Corinthians 8

English Standard Version (ESV)

Encouragement to Give Generously

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you[c]see that you excel in this act of grace also.
I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

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