Touré’s misuse of Scripture

Recently MSNBC’s The Cycle roundtable of pundits discussed Mitt Romney’s just-released tax return for 2011 and the 20-year summary provided through PricewaterhouseCoopers. This article at The Blaze sums it up well, but one assertion by co-host Touré needs particular attention from a Biblical standpoint.

At the end of the video featured at that link, Touré makes a surprising and completely erroneous reference to the poor widow’s offering, found in Luke 21:1-4. He states of Romney’s charitable contributions, “The rich man who gave a bunch means less than the poor person who gave a penny.” S.E. Cupp called it a cheap shot. She was right, but it’s much more than that.

The story in the Bible is short:

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

The rich gave from their excess, not the firstfruits of their belongings, as instructed to do under Jewish Law. The widow, however, gives sacrificially: she has next to nothing, and yet honors her duty to give by placing all she has in the temple treasury. Her actions show that she trusts God to provide for her. Jesus praises her for this, and in so doing shames those who give for show.

Now, what was the sin of the rich givers? Was it that they were rich? No: it’s that they clung to their wealth, and thought of God last. They gave comfortably, not sacrificially. God provides wealth to many men and women in the Bible, but he also calls on them to recognize where that wealth comes from.

Touré’s statement evinces a disdain for the rich (at least, in this case, Mitt Romney), and general sympathy for the poor. One might be surprised to learn that the Bible itself tells us not to favor the poor simply because of their social status:

You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. (Exodus 23:3 ESV, emphasis added)

Romans 2:11 tells us that “God shows no partiality.” It is the heart of the rich or poor man that covers his offering in virtue or sin, and only God can read the true state of that heart.

We can tell Touré is very anxious to get his point in, because he tries three times to interject himself into the conversation before the segment wraps up. “I go back to the Bible,” he says, aiming to lend automatic gravitas to his words via its authority; but a holistic view of the Bible soundly discredits his assertion.

Scripture is a heavy sword. Don’t pick it up unless you know how to wield it.

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