God Gave First
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. John 3:16
God gave his Son, Jesus, who then gave his life for us. This is the ultimate example of generosity, and we are called to bear the image of God in all that we do. We, then, are most like God when we are generous.
Why is this message so important to us? Because being generous is not something you do simply because I suggested you do it, or your pastor told you to do it, or the vice president of development from a worldwide ministry asked you to do it. Our motivation for being generous springs from our desire to be more like God, to follow his example, especially when he has given so much to us.
The Apostle Paul writes, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and … your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).3 Is it possible that God has allowed you to be successful financially so that you can “be generous on every occasion”?
Seek First God’s Kingdom
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
As an older commercial for an insurance company stated, life comes at you hard. In our fragile economy, anything can happen. The market drops by a few points, and some people lose millions of dollars. A serious illness can eat through savings in the blink of an eye. While the number of millionaires in the United States has increased steadily, so has the number of bankruptcies. It is in that uncertain context that Jesus calmly reassures us: “Make me your priority, and I will take care of you.”
What’s most important to you? That’s your priority. It can only be one thing. A priority is something that is more important to you than anything else and needs to be dealt with first. Most Christians would say that Jesus is more important to them than anything else. It’s pretty easy to say, but in our conversation we emphasize this message because so much is at stake. Earlier in Matthew, Jesus teaches that we can’t serve both God and money, then adds this curious instruction: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25).
It’s difficult to be generous if we worry about things, especially money. Conversely, if God and his ways are more important to us than anything else, we can be generous and not worry that we’ll run out of “all these things.” We have to be careful here. This is a promise about life, not about material wealth. Jesus is not telling us that if we give, we get more money in return. Rather, generosity produces the virtues of joy, peace, purpose, and contentment that give life true meaning. At the same time, many of the people who have joined our conversation have significantly increased their generosity, yet I do not recall a single instance where anyone ran out of money because he or she gave too much away. But suppose someone did. Suppose he gave every penny away and his account hit zero. According to this promise, God will take care of him.
Do we really believe the Bible? Can we trust it? How do we move into greater levels of trust? I have a feeling you’d love to join that conversation.
Next page »