FROM THE PULPIT: Generosity is the measure of love

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Lo201205-pulpitve delights to give. Tell me how much you give and I will tell you how much you love. Giving is the acid test of loving. This is well recorded in many sections of the bible.

For instance, in Luke Chapter 19:1-10 “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see Jesus, but being a short man, he could not because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore fig tree to see Him. When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today… But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount’… Jesus said, salvation has come to this house…”

Zacchaeus was a short taxman who climbed up a sycamore tree to get a good look at Jesus. The teacher spotted him perched in one of the branches, told him to come down and then invited himself over a meal in Zacchaeus house. Luke’s record tells us nothing about the conversation, but when Zacchaeus emerged from the house that afternoon, he made a dramatic announcement. He promised to give half of his wealth to the poor people and return four fold the amount of money he had taken dishonestly.

We think we are generous if we give God ten percent of our income. Most pastors and deacons would be delighted if everyone in the congregation contributed five percent. The mark of Zacchaeus’ transformation was his staggering generosity. That’s why Jesus declared: “Today salvation has come to this house.” Obviously, salvation isn’t bought with money, but a measure of evidence of whether or not people have trusted Christ is how completely they trust in him with all they own.

Do we display a love and generosity that is compatible with God’s boundless grace to us? Christ paid the debt our sin incurred; he died to set us free so let’s now give back to him generously. When you think about giving to others, think about all-that God has given to you. The greatness of God’s love for us is demonstrated by his priceless gift to us. How much did God love a lost world? So much that He gave His only Son (John 3:16). In Ephesians Chapter 5:25 we read: “Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her.” Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians Chapter 2:20: “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Just as God’s love and giving are inseparable, so too our giving is an expression of our love. This goes much deeper than just putting something in the offering basket on Sunday. It begins with giving ourselves to the Lord each day of the week.

In 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 8, Apostle Paul commended the churches in Macedonia for their generous giving. Their kindness was as a result of their dedication to Christ. In verse 5, Paul said: “they first gave themselves to the Lord.” When we do that, He then has all of us, including our possessions. How much do you love? The answer can’t be seen in how you love to give. You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.

I have sometimes wished I had wealth, thinking of all the good I could do with it. But would I? In 1st Timothy Chapter 6:9, Paul warned that coveting riches is a snare. Realising this, we should also thank God for the blessings he gives us and then give as lavishly as we can out of that abundance.

I think it was an act of true Christian kindness for my friend recently to give us a day of her life. It’s exactly the kind of thing brothers and sisters in Christ should be doing for one another when the opportunity arises. But so often we’re blocked by a schedule that is too tight, financial obligations that leave no room for anything but making money or a preoccupation to satisfy our own desires.

We have to “be rich in good work, ready to give,” as exemplified in 1st Timothy, Chapter 6:18. And that includes giving our time.

Published in May 2012

 

 

 

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