“This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines.” Amos 2:6-8
“Amos condemns, by the authority of the Lord, debt slavery, gouging of the poor, the denial of legal redress to the afflicted, improper treatment of a maidservant, depriving debtors of their only clothes, and using the legal system to extort money. The Mosaic law gave explicit regulations or prohibitions for each of these crimes. Amos accuses the people of practicing oppression while simultaneously participating in religious ritual…”
Thomas J. Finley in The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary on Joel, Amos, and Obadiah (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1990) 162.
Finley was my Hebrew professor back in seminary. I especially appreciate his use of the word ‘simultaneously’ in this excerpt from his commentary.
God’s people were simultaneously practicing oppression and participating in religious ritual. What does this have to do with generosity? They were doing whatever they could to make money, with little or no care for the detriment of other people, and then walking into the temple and making their offering as if everything was cool. And, if that’s not bad enough, behind the scenes they were indulging in sexual perversion. The Lord says through His servant, Amos, “Enough!”
Since 750 B.C., it seems that times have not changed much. Consider the similarities to today.
Many people do what is legal, though in God’s eyes it is not moral, such as taking advantage of others and amass great wealth for themselves when God intended it for enjoyment and sharing. Whether inside the Church or outside, these people often succumb to their carnal lusts and indulge in pornography or promiscuous relationships beyond the scenes. Then they walk into church and participate in religious ritual, which includes making offerings, or in plain terms, giving, but there’s a disconnect.
Back then, God saw all this injustice and through His servant, Amos, proclaimed, “Enough!” I echo him today, “Enough!”
God sees everything. He sees how we earn the money we have and what we do with it. He does not need our money. He wants our hearts. He desires that our walk simultaneously match our talk as His people. He wants our earning and our giving to reflect justice and bring about righteousness.
If you are convicted in any way, confess and turn from your sin, and make things right (literally, “make restitution”) like Zacchaeus did (Luke 19:1-10). And, since I mentioned him, too many people wrongly read Zacchaeus as a generosity example that justifies holding back large portions of wealth for yourself (in his case, literally, “half”) . On the contrary, Zaccheaus did not do any “charitable giving” that day, but rather simply made right the balance with those he had cheated and made restitution to the poor from whom he had extracted far too much money. Anyone in the same position today should take the same restorative action!
Remember, God sees everything. He sees how we earn the money we have and what we do with it. He desires that our walk simultaneously match our talk as His people. He wants our earning and our giving to reflect justice and bring about righteousness. When we do that as a way of life, then that is generosity.Read more