Friday, January 27, 2012

Giving and Voluntary Poverty - Part 2 of Spiritual Gifts

Brief Clarification

Before we dive into our study of these two spiritual gifts today, I’d like to clarify something I said in the last post: “…each believer has at least one [spiritual gift].”  In my experience, most believers have a couple or a few, and we’re also sometimes given a certain gift temporarily in certain situations – as in a *special* filling with the Holy Spirit.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the gifts of giving and voluntary poverty! :-)


We pulled this spiritual gift from Romans 12:8:  “…(let) he who gives, with liberality.”

The Greek word used here for “gives” is metadidomi, which means to give, to share, to share a part of.  This Greek word is used only four other times in the Bible, rendered differently in English.

And he would answer and say to them, ‘Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likeweise.’”  (Luke 3:11)

Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.”  (Ephesians 4:28).

For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established.”  (Romans 1:11)  (With the word’s definition here, it seems to me the meaning of the verse is that Paul wants to share one of his spiritual gifts with the new Roman church – that is, use it to help them establish their congregation.)

Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:8)  (Again, here it seems to me the meaning is to share their time and effort with the Thessalonian church.)

We can see, then, that the spiritual gift of giving entails being compelled to share your resources, time, energy, and effort with others.

Let’s also take a brief look into the word “liberality.”  This Greek word is haplotes, meaning “singleness.”  It is used eight times in the Bible, and it is difficult to translate into English and retain the word’s meaning, so it is rendered as “liberality,” “simplicity,” and “sincerity.” 

The only other time it is used in the context of giving to others is 2 Corinthians 9:13 “Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all.”

If you look at the other instances (2 Corinthians 8:2, 9:11, 11:3, Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22), an interesting point becomes clear – singleness means single-mindedness, like the undivided heart that David talked about in his Psalms.  The essence here, then, is focusing only on God.

So, let’s expound upon Romans 12:8 “…(let) he who gives with liberality.”  Inserting what we have learned, we get, “Let he who is gifted with a special desire to give his/her resources, time, energy, and effort to help others, do so single-mindedly, not getting distracted by a desire for credit (Matthew 6:3-4) or by selfishness to hoard those blessings for him/herself.”

Voluntary Poverty

Voluntary poverty is one of the not-always-accepted-as-such spiritual gifts, likely because it is very closely tied to the gift of giving.  However, I believe they are different degrees of the same spiritual gift, so need to be addressed with some distinction – but I’m getting ahead of myself. :-)

We pulled this spiritual gift from 1 Corinthians 13:3 “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor…”

The word for “give” used here is psomizo, which actually means “to feed with morsels.”  It is impossible to translate this word directly into English, so its meaning is split up “give…to feed.”  It is used only one other time in Scripture, Romans 12:20.

However, feeding is not the focus of our study.  Instead, I think it best to focus on, “And if I give all my possessions…”  This is a much farther extent than we saw with metadidomi, sharing.  This is the ultimate extreme to go to, such as the widow did in Mark 12:41-44.


Giving is a very tricky spiritual gift to nail down because it seems to have three distinct levels.  (1) We are all called to be charitable to others and particularly other believers (Luke 3:11, among many, many other passages).  (2) Some are gifted spiritually to have a special desire/willingness to do this (Romans 12:8).  (3) Some have an uber-gift of giving that gives them a strong desire/willingness to use everything they have for others’ benefit.

Let’s Talk

Do any of you have (or know someone who has) the spiritual gift of giving?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have made an interesting point in regards to the voluntary poverty being the nth degree of giving. I think this makes a little more sense to me than a lot of the other things I have heard about it. But I am still researching. Thank you.