A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
What is the difference between a gift and a bribe? Is this proverb permitting the offering of bribes to get one’s way? The proverb may not be giving permission for anything. Many proverbs are mere observations about life, adding no comment about the moral value. That is true of this one.
And yet, there are many situations in which a gift may be used wisely. In this proverb the gift is used to win an audience with someone in a greater position. It is mere bribery – i.e. a payoff – to pay a sort of fee and obtain unfair advantage over others, especially in the matter of justice. And yet a wise person will take the time to give a pleasing gift that softens an otherwise stony composure and thus win a fair hearing. It is also appropriate to give gifts that express true sentiment of appreciation, such as giving a gift to someone whom you admire.
Again, this is not the case of a rich man able to give a higher cost bribe than his poorer opponent, or deliver secret bribes. Rather, it is the wise paving of the way that allows him to receive his hearing and to enhance good relations. Thus, Jesse sends David to his brothers not only with food for them, but for their commander; Jacob sends gifts to Esau and the brothers bring gifts to Joseph on behalf of their father. The givers are expressing to the recipients that they acknowledge their position of being under the recipients’ authority or power. They are not demanding rights, but appealing to generosity.
It is in such spirit that we come before our Lord in worship, offering gifts of worship, perhaps our tithes, and certainly offering ourselves in service. Such gifts, the Lord is pleased with, and in his generosity continues to overflow our cup with blessings.
1 Timothy 6
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.
False Teachers and the Love of Money
These are the things you are to teach and insist on. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Final Charge to Timothy
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.
Grace be with you all.