8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.
I. Paul's Focus Upon the Grace-Gifts.
A. His "selectivity".
B. His fundamental understanding.
C. His instruction.
1. Critical to understanding is the issue of "definitions"; thus, we must be sure we understand to some degree that which Paul addresses and not be taken in by those who would distort the definitions in order to take advantage of others.
2. Those who have the ability to "prophesy" are to "prophesy" according to the "apportioned faith" given to them.
3. Those who have the ability to "minister" are to so "minister".
4. The list runs through "teaching", "exhortation", "giving", "ruling", and "showing mercy".
1) The term so translated is found in five texts in the New Testament. Two of those five are texts which zero in on physical provision for someone in need of life (Luke 3:11 and Ephesians 4:28). Two of them zero in on spiritual provision for those in need of Life (Romans 1:11 and 1 Thessalonians2:8). The fifth is the text before us which has no explanatory context other than the qualifier "with simplicity/liberality". This strongly suggests that the "grace/faith-function" called "giving" means the ability to understand "need" at the physical and spiritual levels and the ability to provide for those needs. This is, like most of the "gifts", a matter of excellingability. Everyone has some level of ability in many of the "gifts", but those who are actually "gifted" have an excelling ability.
a) The major instructional passage of the New Testament on this subject is 2 Corinthians 8-9.
b) There are other places where Paul touches on the subject (like 1 Corinthians 16:1-4), but the major concepts are given extensive instruction in the above context.
2) The meaning of the term upon which the translators did not agree: simplicity/liberality.
a) The reason for the translational differences is not difficult to see when one looks into the way the word is used in the New Testament. In some texts, the word is used when the author seems to be focused upon the issue of "focus" or "undistracted commitment" or "singularity of motive" (thus, "simplicity"). However, in other texts, the word is used when the author is trying to communicate the notion of "abandonment", or "lack of restraint", or "extraordinary generosity" (thus "liberality").
b) The question is whether Paul is attempting to teach that the "grace/faith-function" of giving is to be marked most fundamentally by "pure motives" or by "generosity". Clearly both are important. The question is "which?". The bottom line is given by looking at the way Paul phrased his string of exhortations. A person "gifted" with "prophecy" is to "prophesy"; a person gifted with "ministry" is to "minister"; a person gifted with "teaching" is to "teach"; a person gifted with "exhortation" is to "exhort". Thus, the one gifted with "giving" is to "give" -- leading us directly to the characterization of "liberality", not "purity of motive".
1) There are two major ways this word is used in the New Testament.
a) It is the term used when one is looking at the exercise of authority in the determination of the direction of a local church. It is used several times to refer to the way a father makes sure his household is not allowing disobedience to flourish for want of corrective action. This focus upon "not allowing..." rather than "setting the direction..." is interesting. The gift comes down as a matter of "protecting" the church from destructive termites (small but capable errors).
b) It is also the term used when one is looking at "making sure something is not allowed to lapse".
2) The main issue of this "grace/faith-function" is that of establishing and maintaining a godly agenda and order. This gift, with this main issue, is specifically concerned with the big ticket items of defining what is important (Love) and how that important issue will be pursued (Faith).
3) The characterization of the function of this "gift": diligence. The word is used in the New Testament to communicate a certain determination of focus that disallows a matter to slip under the radar. Its verbal form also indicates a kind of "immediacy" of action that sees a task as needing immediate pursuit.
e. Showing Mercy.
1) "Mercy" is an extensively referenced concept in the Bible. Paul uses the nominal and verbal forms of the word in Romans in nine verses (9:15, 16, 18, 23; 11:30, 31, 32; 12:8; and 15:9).
2) The Online Bible says that "mercy" is shown in action and "compassion" resides in the heart. These two words are used together in Romans 9:15 in reference to God's declaration that He determines whether He "will have" mercy or compassion. Paul goes on to say that God sometimes determines to "harden" instead of to "show mercy" (9:18). Jesus said that God "prefers" mercy (Matthew 9:13) and that "mercy" is a "weightier" matter than "tithing" (Matthew 23:23).
3) In the larger scheme of things, "mercy" is a "one of many" characteristic of God's character and, like the many, has its metes and bounds. If this were not so, the "grace/ faith-function" called "showing mercy" would be given to all.
4) In the particular scheme of things, "showing mercy" means eliminating the cause of a given Death experience.
a) In most, if not all, of the historical accounts of the Gospels wherein "mercy" is an issue, there is a significant difficulty that is corrupting a person's ability to "live" and "mercy" is extended in the form of a "solution". For examples, consider Matthew9:27 in its context where two blind men seek "mercy" in the form of a return of sight. This is one of many examples of the same notion wherein a "condition" is viewed as a "life-corrupting" matter and the appeal for "mercy" is an appeal for the elimination of the "condition".
b) In the development of "mercy" as a concept, there is a definitive line of demarcation between "life" and "Life" and the "solutions of mercy" are radically distinct. In 1 Timothy 1 Paul said that he was the "chief of sinners" and "mercy" was extended to him in two particular ways: first, he was "put into the ministry" of "apostleship" in spite of the fact that he had been an injurious blasphemer and persecutor of God's Church (1:12-13); and, second, he was "saved" (1:15-16). Neither of these "issues" is a "life" issue, but both are "Life" issues. Paul's "life" could have been very good without any "ministry" or "salvation", but his "Life" required both in that "Life" has to do with having a real and workable relationship with God.
5) For Paul's characterization of the exercise of "mercy", he chose a word that is only used twice in the New Testament in nominal and adjectival forms (2 Corinthians 9:7 and our current text). This word's meaning is most easily seen by the contrasts that the Corinthian text presents: "grudging necessity". The contrasts are matters of the inner condition of the soul when it is subject to extremely distasteful realities. Showing mercy with "cheerfulness" requires an inner freedom of the soul where there is no reluctance.