We have entered an election year, as one enters the midst of a violent thunderstorm. It is difficult to avoid, often overwhelming, and the potential damage is impossible to predict. Talking points blow around like leaves, and political loyalties often snap like weak branches, littering the driveways of the electorate.
Political contests are great revealers of men's souls. Labels become hysterically important in defining one's political views and perceived benefit or damage to the future of the nation, extending so far as to paint a person as good or evil.
The two prominent political labels are Liberal and Conservative. No matter one's party affiliation, core beliefs tend to distill into one or the other category. Conservatives are generally cautious of change, preferring to stand by proven traditions. Liberals are less narrow, and more generous with new ideas (as well as other people's money).
I hate to disappoint readers who think I am going to endorse one faction over another; that is not my purpose. However, I will maintain that "Liberal is good"--but not in the political sense of "liberal-ism."
It is "liberal-ity," the character trait of "generosity," of which I speak. The bible calls us to be liberal with our resources, just as God is liberal with His resources.
Deuteronomy 15:14 instructs the ancient slave owner, upon releasing his slave: "Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him." As God blessed the owner, he blessed the slave.
In the midst of verses contrasting the generous and stingy man, Proverbs says, "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself" (11:25). Becoming "fat" may be against the doctor's orders, but the idea is that a generous person need not see philanthropy as a losing proposition. Jesus taught, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38). It may not mean Jaguars and junkets, but the rewards are great. Paul's words echo that sentiment: "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Times were bad for the early church. Due to persecution and oppression, most Christians had little to live on. Yet, when there was a need, they dug deeply into their handbags and hearts: "How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality" (2 Corinthians 8:2).
Liberality may seem obviously difficult for those with meager resources, but it can be a battle for those with major reserves as well; so much so that Paul penned 2 Timothy 6:17, 18: "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate." Instead of grasping at gold, the wealthy need to grapple with God and give with gusto.
God is not only liberal with material goods; He loves to share His wisdom with us: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). God doesn't hold back or hold us in contempt when supplying us with anything we need; therefore, we should have the same attitude when meeting the needs of others.
When it comes to sharing what little or much God has generously given us, "Liberal is good."