I n today’s highly individualistic world, generosity is a word that we seldom think about, much less live out. Even as believers, it is easy to be swept up by the emphasis on self that we neglect the needs of others. We may as a result fail to remember and recognize that generosity is an essential part of our response to Jesus, an integral aspect of our salvation. Evangelism and social action could become a self-centred response to the Great Commission rather than an outflow of a deep generous urge within us, due to God’s transformational work in us.
Perhaps, more than ever, we need to be reminded that both the Old and New Testaments contain much teaching on compassion and generosity, especially within the church and among the people of God. The Old Testament laws are essentially a commentary on how the people of God were to show love to God and to others. Jesus said as much when He sums up the Laws and the Prophets in Matthew 22:37–40.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37–40)
This is re-iterated by Apostle Paul in Romans 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law”. The laws are thus all about loving God and loving people. They instruct the Israelites on how to live as people belonging to God. One of their distinctives is that they would not oppress others the way they had been oppressed in Egypt; instead they were to be generous and helped the poor get back on their feet.
Similarly, in the New Testament Jesus taught that His followers would be known by their love for one another.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34–35)
We see the practical outworking of this in the early Jerusalem church. Acts 4:34 says that there was “no needy person among them”because those who have more possessions gave willingly to meet the needs of other believers. Let’s rediscover and apply the biblical teaching on generosity in the life of a Christian.
P.K.D Lee & Pauline Daniel
- Generosity and the Gospel
- Generosity in the Old Testament
- Individual Generosity
- Generosity in Relationships
- Generosity Challenge
Generosity is an essential part of the gospel. Though one can be generous without being a Christian, it is impossible to be a Christian and not be generous. This is why, in the parable of the sheep and the goats, the positive response of people to the gospel is manifested as generosity.
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:37–40)
In the following sections, we will look at three aspects of the gospel and how they relate to generosity.
The Gospel to the Poor
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Luke 4:18–19)
These are the words that Jesus used to describe His ministry at its outset. Did Jesus mean the spiritually poor, blind and oppressed or was He talking about actual physical poverty, captivity, blindness, and oppression? Our tendency today is to spiritualize this. We see Jesus as the solution to our spiritual problems; He came to save us from sin. We may easily forget that the gospel narratives show that Jesus addressed both the spiritual needs as well as the physical.
In the subsequent sections of chapters 4 and 5, Luke shows how this proclamation by Jesus was fulfilled in His ministry. We see Jesus casting out spirits (Luke 4:31–37), healing (Luke 4:38–41), preaching (Luke 4:42–44), healing a leper (Luke 5:12–16), healing and forgiving a paralytic (Luke 5:17–26), and teaching (Luke 5:33–39).Luke showed us that Jesus’ holistic ministry encompassed both the spiritual and the physical.
Jesus’ ministry of meeting physical needs is also highlighted in His response to the disciples of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:4–6 when John sent them to confirm that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4–5)
Why did Jesus give a clear and direction solution to the blind (“receive sight”), the lame (“walk”) the lepers (“cleansed”), and the dead (“raised”), but not to the poor? Why proclaim the good news (or the “gospel”) to the poor? How would it solve their problem? It would appear that the answer is obvious to the disciples of John. They saw the gospel as an answer to the needs of the poor. The question then arises of how this can be. It could happen in three ways. The gospel results in transformed lives, leading to . . .
- The elimination of wasteful habits from the lives of the poor
- God’s blessing on His people, enriching their lives
- The change of hearts of the rich so that they are willing to share their wealth with the poor in the kingdom.
While the first two are important, by themselves they are inadequate to free those who are shackled by structures of poverty and without the resources to help themselves. For such people the third method is critical. We see this effect of the gospel in Acts 4:33–35 where it says,
And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Among the people of God, the poor should experience not only physical deliverance from poverty, but also from injustice, rejection, and dehumanization. Why? This is because Christ has come to rule in their hearts. He has come to set up a community where there is peace and justice (Isaiah 9:6–7).
The mark of genuine biblical evangelism is that it takes place as “an expression of true concern for individuals and communities who are not seen as ‘souls’ to be saved but as persons who have physical, material, psychological and spiritual needs and who are the object of God’s love in Jesus Christ”.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17)
Another essential part of the gospel proclaimed by Jesus is the kingdom of God. What you would find in the gospel narratives is that Jesus preached an invitation into the kingdom (Matthew 4:17) rather than just an invitation into heaven (John 3:16).These go hand in hand and we cannot ignore one and preach the other.
It was the kingdom, or the community of the people of God, which was the good news that Jesus proclaimed. People were invited to come and become a part of this community. Since the gospel is an invitation to the kingdom, and the church is the physical manifestation of the kingdom, there is no gospel without the church. Following Jesus means membership in the body of Christ and thus carries with it responsibilities towards others including the less well-off. We saw in the previous section how the early church practiced this community living by sharing their resources so that no one was in need. Such community needs to be a reality in our churches as well.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17)
The apostle John reminds us that love and compassion are the hallmarks of God’s redeemed people. As such, if a family in a well-to-do church goes to bed hungry because they couldn’t afford a meal, shouldn’t it lead us to wonder: Have the people in that church accepted the life-transforming gospel?
Another important feature of the kingdom community is that all are equal within the community, no matter what their position in secular society.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26–28)
How real is this in our churches? A watchman living close to my house in Kolkata was a former dacoit (bandit) who had converted to Christianity. He would not go to church since he felt that he was not treated with dignity there. He was seen as “poor”. The Railway officers in the Railway colony where I lived, would not go to the Railway church, since they would have to rub shoulders with the staff. They preferred to go to the bigger and richer churches away from their home. Where is the acceptance that Jesus showed to the people who approached Him?
Without love and generosity there can be no kingdom community. Generosity is not just a sharing of financial resources and wealth, but an acceptance of people and magnanimity in our evaluation and estimation of people. The giving of dignity and value is often more important than the giving of money.
The Gospel of Repentance
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 3:1–2)
John the Baptist was the first to announce the imminent arrival of the kingdom of God that was brought by Jesus. He called on people to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Jesus too preached the same message (Matthew 4:17).
What does “repent” mean? We often take it to mean the action of turning away from sin, but if that was all that John the Baptist had in mind, he would have had little reason to rebuke the Pharisees who prided themselves on keeping the law perfectly and being religiously pure(Matthew 3:7).
The Greek word for repent is metanoia—a combination of meta, meaning change, and noia, meaning mind. It means a change in one’s thinking. John was calling for a change in a person’s attitude towards God that affected their actions and life choices. Thus the evidence of their repentance would be that those who have more would share with those who did not have enough, and those in power would cease oppressing and extorting those under them (Luke 3:10–14). They were to turn from self-seeking pursuit of wealth to contentment in God and thus generous sharing of wealth.
What kind of repentance can bring about such a lifestyle change? Jesus said,
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money”(Matthew 6:24).
The repentance needed is one from the love of money or material things. What does it mean to serve wealth? It means to trust and depend on it to provide for your needs. So, Jesus wassaying that you either see God as your provider or you see wealth as your provider. You cannot hold to both beliefs.
This is illustrated in Jesus’ dealing with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. Jesus challenged the man to sell his possessions, give it to the poor, and then follow Him.
Essentially Jesus was saying that one could not enter the kingdom of God while loving money and trusting it for their day-to-day lives. So the repentance that Jesus called for is first and foremost a repentance in our faith, a turning away from trusting in money and material things, and putting our trust wholly on Jesus. The repentance from sin (or works) comes automatically after the repentance in our faith. Repentance in our faith leads to salvation, and repentance from sin to sanctification. Both are essential, but faith precedes works.
Necessity of Generosity
We saw in the parable of the sheep and the goats that those who were saved displayed generosity, while those who were condemned did not. Does this mean that salvation is based on works? No! It means that if a person has turned from trust in the world to trust in Jesus, they would naturally be generous. If one is not generous, then repentance has not taken place and salvation is not there.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22–23)
What does it mean to have an eye that is unhealthy? The same Greek expression is used in Matthew 20:15 in the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, where it is translated as envious.
Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? (Matthew 20:15)
Rather than rejoicing at the good fortune of the other labourers, the ones who were recruited earlier were jealous and angry about it. Proverbs 28:22 carries the same idea—an “unhealthy eye” is one that is stingy or ungenerous. Similarly, the word for “healthy” is in other places translated as generous. So, Jesus was saying that if we are generous our lives will be full of light, but if we our stingy and ungenerous our lives will be full of darkness.
Hence generosity is an essential aspect of our Christian life.
The Old Testament contains a lot of teaching on the need for generosity among the people of God.
The Law of Jubilee
Take for example the book of Deuteronomy. The Israelites were slaves in the land of Egypt for four generations, where they were cruelly oppressed. When God delivered them from their slavery, He repeatedly asked them to remember their experience as slaves in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15, 15:15, 24:18, 22) and therefore to not oppress other people as they had been oppressed. Rules were laid down to prevent oppression of the poor from being practiced in Israel. Though we need not apply the Old Testament laws to the letter now, the principles still applies.
One of the main rules pertaining to this was the law that land (the means of production) could not be sold permanently and had to return to the original owning family every Year of Jubilee, which was once every fifty years(Leviticus 25:13–17).
In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property . . .
Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.
By this it was ensured that no family lost the means of production permanently and was thereby reduced to slavery or poverty forever.
Today, one ticket to improving earning power and thus economic security is education. Many governments have recognized this and passed laws to ensure that all have access to education. However, the quality of such instruction is still uneven, with the rich often getting a better education than the poor. Can we as a church do something to alleviate this disparity, both within and beyond the church community? Are there believers among us who lose out on education because of finances? How can we help them?
The church was once a leader in the field of education, with the intention that all should have access to the Bible. Today we have lost that edge. For years, society was stratified according to caste and class. Education broke down these barriers for people who could never get out of the poverty cycle. Today this class structure with its injustices are returning due to weak public education and high cost of private education. We need to get involved again and see how we can make education more equitable for the poor.
The Law of Gleaning
For those who have no land or other means of production, provision was made for them through the law of gleaning. Under this law, when the rich harvested their crops they were to leave some behind for the poor to collect for their use.
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.
Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23:22)
This recognized the responsibility of the rich to see that the poor were fed and did not go hungry. How do we respond to this duty?
One of the biggest hindrances to generosity is the tendency to evaluate the worth of the recipient of our generosity. While this is often necessary, and we need to address real needs rather than felt needs, the law of gleaning did not lay down any qualifications for the recipients. The person did not need to be an Israelite and did not have to prove his or her worth in any way. The only criteria was being poor and not having food.
We sometimes judge those who are poor and unemployed as being lazy or unwilling to work or not trying hard enough. But their inability to work may arise from psychological problems or other causes that are not immediately visible. We need to remind ourselves that we have not been through their experiences and should not judge their worthiness of our generosity. That they are poor and in need should be enough for us to extend a helping hand.
The Sabbatical Year
At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. (Deuteronomy 15:1)
Under the Mosaic law, loans were to be given to the poor Israelites without any interest(Leviticus 25:35–38). Furthermore, if they were unable to pay back the loan by the seventh (or Sabbath) year, it was waived entirely(Deuteronomy 15:1–6). This ensured that no one remained permanently in debt, nor did his debt increase due to interest rates. We can understand the value and benefit of these laws when we look at the bonded labour situation in India. However, the personal challenge for us is: Will we be available to make loans to those in need? Are we willing to write off debts of those who cannot pay back the loans?
In addition to writing off debts, those who had become slaves as a result of debt were to be set free in the Sabbath year. Not only were they to be set free, they were also to be given capital to rebuild their lives(Deuteronomy 15:12–18). So, the rich were not just to provide for the poor, but also help them get out of dependency into a position where they could look after themselves.
How does this translate into action today? We do not have slaves (at least, not for Christians), but we do have the poor who work for us. When they leave our service due to various reasons like marriage or health issues, do we see to it that they are set up to look after themselves? Or will their changed circumstances lead to deeper poverty? There are myriad circumstances to which this principle could be applied.
Generosity was a key part of the Old Testament laws and remains an important principle for Christians today. The nation of Israel often forgot this lesson and the Old Testament prophets had to repeatedly raise their voices on behalf of the poor and oppressed. Passages like Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 22, and the book of Amos clearly demonstrate God’s concern for the oppressed.
So, how does concern for the poor and oppressed translate in my day-to-day life?
The Poor We Met
We are in continuous contact with the poor in our daily lives. They serve us at home as maids, in the market as sales assistant, and so on. Too often these people are lost in the larger picture of the poor, and we feel helpless in tackling poverty because of the enormity of the problem. However, without losing sight of the big picture, we need to zoom in for a moment to look at the people around us and see how we can make a difference in their lives.
The plight of the poor in our milieu can be mitigated by our intervention. These are the people God has brought to us. At the same time, we need to keep an eye on the big picture to gain a proper perspective of the type of intervention required. Sometimes we must go beyond the felt needs to the real needs of people. These are usually individual in scope, but sometimes they are structural. Poverty could be because of an individual’s inability to get a job, or it could be because the local job market is poor. Both need to be addressed, but require different approaches.
In India, poor families usually descent into debt because of illness or marriage. As Christians, we could offer a helping hand during these life events to see that they do not end up in debt. Educating them in managing their financial resources and remaining debt free is another possibility.
Giving of our Time
The biggest constraint in offering a helping hand is often not money but time. Freeing up time in a hectic schedule has a lot to do with efficient time management, but there are also some useful attitudes to have when making time for others.
The first is to see our time as a gift from God, to be used for His purposes. Obviously, as the Sabbath command shows, adequate use of time for rest is essential. But if we see our time not as a personal possession, but something given generously to us by God, we will be more inclinced to use it to minister to others.
The second involves our tendency to procrastinate. There are many proverbs in the Bible against the spirit of procrastination, and as believers we should use our time responsibly. A policy that I’ve always followed is to complete all that could be done for today—even the less urgent ones—and not postpone it to tomorrow. That way, I could have more time available the next day to devote to other people and their needs.
The last attitude we could have is to be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of others. Most people use only our free time in the day to minister to others. But if we really want to be a blessing to people, there will be occasions where we are called to forgo some of the things we like to do so that we can be there for people in need.
Sacrificing Privacy for Others
Opening our homes to meet the needs of people is an area of ministry few are willing to take up. Somehow, we feel that our home is the last bastion of privacy which we are reluctant to lose. Ministry outside the home is acceptable, but letting people into the house is a stretch.
But our homes have been given to us by God to use for His kingdom and not to keep it selfishly for ourselves. In fact, hospitality is one of the commands that is repeatedly emphasized in the New Testament (see Romans 12:13; I Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2).
Hospitality is not providing food and lodging for the occasional visitor, but keeping a home that people feel comfortable in. Keeping this kind of open house makes it a refuge for people who are hurting and need a kind ear to confide in.
Interestingly, I have found that homes that are kept spick and span do not make visitors comfortable. A home that looks lived in (not a pig sty) is more welcoming and helps people open up with their concerns.
In today’s fast paced world this is an aspect of Christian life and ministry which is slowly disappearing and needs to be rediscovered.
Forgiving Those Who Hurt Us
This is an area where the churches in India seems to struggle a lot. We just do not seem to be able to forgive each other our offences, real or imagined. This is a serious issue as Jesus said in Matthew 6:14 that if we do not forgive others then God will not forgive us. The same theme is emphasized in the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21–35).
Jesus clearly links the inability to forgive with the lack of salvation. Why then do Indian Christians find it so hard to forgive? Is it that they do not have salvation?
That is a question each individual Christian will have to answer for themselves, but my personal take is that it could be because they do not have a clear understanding of faith and forgiveness.
Faith in Christ is often seen as a means of salvation from sin and not as a way of life. Thus, we do not live by faith, but by the norms of this world. When we do this, things in this world become very important and valuable. Hence when someone threatens us in this area, we are angry and unforgiving. But when we live by faith, in all aspects of our life, and not just for salvation, these material issues become less important and we can forgive more easily.
Moreover, forgiveness is often seen as a legal matter that settles our salvation and not as the start of the rebuilding of a relationship with God and with others. The advocate, Jesus, deals with God and that is it. I remain as I am except that I am no longer under condemnation. That is not the forgiveness the Bible teaches. The Bible speaks about building a relationship with God based on His forgiveness. When I have that relationship, the things of this world grow dim and no matter what people do to me here, I know that God is in control, and I can forgive.
This is why Jesus says that if we do not forgive others then we do not have that relationship with God, and so are still lost.
We need to realise that we seek forgiveness of sins so that we can have a relationship with God, not just to escape hell. Heaven is that relationship with God and not just a material utopia.
Accepting Those Who Are Different
The human personality comes in a myriad of shades, created by vast differences in experiences and perceptions. We tend to mingle with those whose personalities complement ours’ and make us comfortable, and we avoid people who we find disturbing. This is natural.
But as Christians we are to live also in the supernatural realm where we fellowship with all in the church, however different they may be from us. This is especially true when dealing with believers from other denominations and cultures.
One side of generosity is our willingness to overlook things which we find offensive, but forms a part of another culture or class of people. We may not always agree with their practices, but can we still value them as Christians and extend our hand of fellowship? Romans 14 deals with this issue in the church.
And as God’s people, one of our ministries to those outside the church is to extend hospitality and friendship. In this, generosity is important. It is easy to be financially generous from a distance, but it is harder to let people become emotionally close to you. We are not meant to stay aloof and help without getting involved. We need to build relationships and help through these relationships. This also enables us to witness to the people we are helping which we otherwise cannot do as acceptance is the first step in witnessing.
What is the quality of your daily relationship with people of other class levels? Are you too subservient to those above you or too condescending to those below? Do you know their hopes, sorrows, and concerns, or is your relationship purely professional? What do we need to change so that we can have friends across cultures, classes, and generations?
Xenophobia or the inability to accept other cultures has become common in churches around the world, and churches are often divided by ethnic groups. Some of these are because of language, which is understandable, but many are because of ethnicity. So in the US you have Afro-American churches and Anglo-Saxon churches and Indian churches all worshiping in English and belonging to the same denomination. While this may be just for cultural comfort, this was not what Jesus, who is the head of the church, envision of His body. He died to “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:16). In Him, there should not be any dividing wall between cultures, but all would accept each other.
Human beings are created for relationships. It says in Genesis 1:28 that God made us in His image. It further elaborates to say that human kind was created male and female or as a duality. God has a relationship of love within the Trinity and we are also to have this kind of relationship with our fellow beings, especially our spouses. This is the image of God we need to have within us.
Right relationships come from a generous eye, where we are willing to look past offences, forgive one another, and seek the benefit of others. However, our fallen nature gets in the way, and unless we recognize this hindrance to proper relationships we will never get it right and experience the community of God as He intended it to be.
James 4:1–4 says that unless we set right our attitude towards material things, we will not have a right relationship with people. This is because only when we live by trust in Jesus rather than in the things of this world do we see others as people who we can help, rather than as competitors for scarce resources. So, repentance from desiring the things of the world is a necessity for right relationships with people.
Apostle Peter in his epistle asks us to have humility in our relationships. If we do not have humility, or a right understanding of ourselves, we are unable to accept others and have right relationships with them. This right understanding of self comes when we accept Jesus, and having the approval of God, no longer require the approval of others. Without Jesus, we are consumed by our own sense of sin and guilt, and so find it difficult to accept others.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
When we come to Jesus, He accepts us and we can sense His presence with us. Jesus accepts us as we are. When we know that God has accepted us, we do not need to have acceptance from man. We are freed from the desperate search for approval. We can then have a normal and healthy relationship with other people.
What is important in this passage is that we should go to Christ. Jesus says that we must take His yoke upon ourselves. This essentially means that we can no longer do what we want, but must walk in the path that Jesus has laid out for us. This is what salvation is all about, when we die to self and are reborn in Christ, we then live as His followers, doing only what Christ asks us to do.
Walking with Jesus, we learn from Him and grow in knowledge and understanding. One of the things we learn is that we have been created by God exactly as He wants us to be and so we do not have to try and be like someone else. As businessman Anand Pillai puts it, “God has made each of us a first class original. Do not die as a second grade copy.” We can be proud of being original creations by God, not looking for approval from man, but seeking to fulfil the purposes of God in our lives. This understanding of the purpose of God in our lives makes life meaningful and helps us to understand our importance in the economy of God.
However, we cannot experience these blessings if we do not trust that even though our “sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Because God has forgiven us, we can forgive ourselves, put our past behind us, and accept ourselves as we are.
It is sad that many people, even though they have accepted the salvation of Jesus, continue to live with regret and guilt all their lives. They are unable to accept themselves and feelings of inferiority rule their lives.
If you are struggling with guilt and low self-esteem, may I encourage you to take God at His Word? He made you (Ephesians 2:10). He loves you and cause all the things (the good and the bad) to work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The promise of Jesus would then prove real, and you would experience that His yoke is truly easy and light. Life becomes a joyous freedom.
At the close of His ministry, Jesus said, concerning His disciples:
“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).
“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”(John 20:21).
Whenever anything is repeated, it demonstrates its importance. Jesus emphasizes the fact that the disciples have been sent like Him. The fact that this applies even to us today can also be seen:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message. (John 17:20)
It is important to recognize the fact that each of us have been sent like Jesus and are representatives of Jesus today.
Matthew 11:28 is a popular verse which we use to call people to Jesus. When we meet people in need, we tend to tell them to go to Jesus. But if we have been sent like Jesus, we need to modify it as follows: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and the Christ who dwells in me will give you rest.”
That would make a radical difference in our lives as we find that we have to share the time, money, and whatever resources God has entrusted to our care. God expects us to be generous because we are believers, and because we have been sent like Him. This is the love which fulfils God’s law in our lives.
How does this work in practice? To the best of our ability, we try to ensure that our lowly workers are well paid. We may pay them more than our neighbours do, since we have a concern for their welfare. In times of crisis, we make ourselves available to them, to help them find solutions which are out of reach to them. While we do not promote dependency, we do provide assistance in emergencies.
We are the representatives of Jesus in the world. Just as Jesus reached out and healed people from their infirmities, we also need to reach out to people. Are you willing to befriend those people whom you do not like and those who are different from you? My wife accepted me even though I was drinking and smoking and that helped me understand the acceptance of Christ in my life. Jesus accepted the woman caught in adultery (improper relationships) and His acceptance healed her. Do you accept people?
Our calling is to reach out to people and bring healing to them. Our calling is to spur one another to become more like Christ. How can we continue to encourage and build each other up in the kingdom?
There will be bad experiences. People whom you are generous with will let you down. I once helped a family financially with an agreement that they would return the money in monthly instalments. After a few instalments the repayments stopped. After a period of time, they became wealthy with a standard of living well above ours but still did not return the money. There was always some reason for delaying further. We are still good friends but the money was never mentioned or returned.
Such bad experiences tend to make us ungenerous, and are from the devil to turn us away from sharing in God’s nature. Whatever others may do, we need to go on being generous. May God bless you as you walk this path of generosity. May God make you a great blessing to many.