Calculated giving or unbounded love?

I once knew a man who had spent six years at a church boarding school with required daily attendance at chapel. Later in life he explained his avoidance of church (and religion) in that his school participation every day counted for as many church Sundays for the rest of his life! He figured he had made his offering to God.

It was the kind of swap Christ Jesus once described. The Pharisees' tradition provided that a man with needy parents could wangle a way to get around obeying Moses' commandment to honor one's mother and father (see Mark 7:10–13). It was called Corban, a gift of money he would give to the temple that would allow him "no more to do aught for his father or his mother." He could contrive to get by the Fifth Commandment and save some money as he quieted his conscience.

Jesus didn't think much of such trade-offs. To him religion was something of the whole heart, not convenient offerings, however "righteous."

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Dear Sentinel
January 6, 1997

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