Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Generous Life.

The past three Sundays, an interim pastor at our church has brought us a series of messages on giving. I've also picked up a book by Gordon MacDonald, titled Secrets of a Generous Life. Notwithstanding, the topic has been on my mind.

When it comes to generosity, a Christian is given the true picture of a Generous Life from the get-go, namely the Son of God. When a sinner becomes saved by grace, the crucified, risen life of Jesus replaces the damned life of fallen man. The Gospel could not be more generous. As John writes in 1 John 4:9-10,
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Again, this sacrifice is seen in the familiar verse John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son...". Giving is central to our faith, without God's gift, we would have no hope. And as children of God, we have this divine ability and desire for generosity in our very marrow. Yet all too often, the church is caught up in the economic fear and selfishness of the current times and the body of Christ fails in generous living.

Over 2,000 verses devote themselves to the topic of money in the Bible. Severe censure and warning is given on the dangers of wealth and greed. Money all too often has a deceptive power over man, as wealth gives false security and false significance. Man becomes obsessed with acquiring more, and materialism becomes a god. Families are broken over greed, and the true God is not deemed as needed. Jesus declares, "Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:25).

However, we see illustrated in the Gospels a new principle, that what you give will be given back to you, and in abundance. The supernatural act of giving offers a clear picture of the soul's condition. In the parable of the ten minas, we learn that the servant who earned ten minas more was rewarded ten cities to rule over, while the servant who hid his mina, lost it. What we have, we have been given by God, and to hoard this wealth is to squelch the mysterious power of God, and the resulting joy.

I must conclude with the story of the widow's offering,
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on. (Mark 12:41-43)
She put in everything. What telling words of the condition of this widow's soul, and her faith! I certainly do not have the topic of living generously all figured out, but God has sparked in me an excitement over the miraculous act of giving. Like prayer, this act is intercepted and magnified by the God of the universe. We cannot understand how, but God uniquely works in the generous lives of His children to bless the world in need. I pray that my heart will always treasure Him more than any subservient possession, and in doing so, His generous life will flow through me.

I pray that I will put in everything.

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