February 8th, 2023 - Generosity

This morning as we continue our reflection on what it means to BUILD God’s kingdom in this world we’re going to look at the practice of giving. Before we do that, we must pause and remember what God has given to us first. Meditate on this Psalm.

In Psalm 24, David begins by acknowledging that,

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundations on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the LORD’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such  people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.”
- Psalm 24:1-6 NLT

Today we read the words of Jesus in Luke 6:30 and John 15:13

“Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.” Luke 6:30

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Jesus makes two powerful statements here about how our lives are supposed to be lived. Both statements reveal something about the natural desires of our hearts. Jesus knows that the world we live in, broken and marred by sin, teaches us the exact opposite of what he said. He knows that this world and the enemy in it has a grip on our hearts, a grip of greed that can permeate into all of our lives.

The world and our enemy, Satan, tries to convince us that we’re only responsible for ourselves. “Provide for yourself,” “Look out for yourself,” “Self-Care,” these are all ideas that we hear in this world which are continually whispered in our ear through subliminal advertising or screamed from the media we consume. Inherently there is truth behind them, we do need to provide for ourselves and our families, we do need to care for our souls, but if we’re not careful these ideas can become an all-consuming desire that drives our entire being and leads us to neglect the generous and sacrificial lifestyle we’ve been called to as followers of the way of Jesus.

We have an incredibly loving Father that wants us to be taken care of, he wants to provide for us, but he also wants us to be willing to provide for others. He wants us to give freely without expecting anything in return, trusting that he is the provider he says he is. There’s a freedom that comes in our hearts when we’re able to recognize that even if we don’t have everything we think we physically need, we have all that we need in Christ and therefore are able to give freely of what we do have. He is the God who laid the very foundations of the earth and he’s the God that gave his only son, Jesus Christ, to die and pay for our sins in order that he may know us.

We give because God first gave to us. We’re not just talking about finances here either, yes, giving financially to work of God’s kingdom is a vital part of the life of a follower of Jesus, however, what Jesus is getting at in Luke 6:30 and John 15:13 is much more than just money. He’s talking about a lifestyle of generosity that manifests itself in the giving of our time, talents, and treasures. For some of us, giving our treasures (our money) is really easy, but we think that because we give money we don’t have to do anything else. For others of us, we may think that because we give of our time and talents (skills and abilities to serve) that we’re exempt from financial sacrifice. The truth is found in neither of these scenarios. What we see in Jesus’ words is that he expects his followers to be willing to give anything, even their own lives if it called for it, for the sake of the world knowing who he is. Giving this sacrificially is one of the ways we build God’s kingdom here on Earth.

Ask the Lord to show you the ways he’s called you to be generous. Ask him to break the chains of greed that exist in our hearts and free us to become sacrificially generous like he was and is. How will you practice generosity today?

In an age where we’re obsessed with achievement, providing, and for some, building our own kingdoms, remember who this world and everything in it belongs to.

Holy Father, we thank you for what you have given us. It’s because of your generosity to us that we’re able to live in this world. Let an understanding of all you have provided remind us of our place in your kingdom. We’re here not to build our own, but to build yours. Through our generosity may the world see you as the loving Father you are who provided reconciliation to you through Christ Jesus.