WEEK TWO - THE GOSPEL & GENEROSITY
Generosity is a peculiar topic. Whenever it comes up, especially in church, things get uncomfortable in a hurry. The question begins to crop up in our minds: “Am I giving enough? How do I know I’ve given enough?”
And if the pastor lays it on thick by telling us all about the overwhelming number of poor, unfed orphans in India while we fat, disgusting, overfed Americans waste our money on luxuries, we become pretty convinced that we aren’t giving enough. The greater the sense of the need, the greater our sense of guilt.
A BIBLICAL VISION FOR GENEROSITY
I’ve always found it telling that in one of Paul’s most majestic passages about generosity, 2 Corinthians 5:13–21 (take a moment and read through this text), he doesn’t drum up donations by beating people over the head with guilt. Instead, he applies the gospel in three distinct ways. Over the next couple of weeks we will dive into how Paul shows how the gospel fuels our motivation, the measure and the mission of living sacrificially.
Let’s begin with how the gospel gives us a MOTIVATION to live sacrificially, the love of Christ. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, The love of Christ controls us. The love of Christ had become, for Paul, his guiding, motivating principle. He had begun to see everything in his life through that lens. The extravagant love that Christ had shown to Paul captured his heart, and Paul never got over it.
I am ashamed at how often I seem to “get over” my own salvation. I sometimes think about what it will be like to one day stand before Jesus, to finally and fully realize how lost I would have been had he not stepped in the gap for me. What will it be like when I see the nail scars in his hands and feet from where he took the wrath of God for my sin?
In a certain sense, I know how vast his sacrificial love for me is now, but I don’t feel it like I will then. If I were to truly grasp the measure of his love, then living for him would be nothing but joy. The greatest sacrifice on earth wouldn’t feel like a sacrifice at all.
That vision is the motivation for sacrificial giving. Not guilt, but Christ’s love. We don’t give because God has needs. I repeat: God doesn’t need our cash. He doesn’t come to us, hat in hand, sheepishly asking for funding for his mission. We don’t give because God needs it, but because in giving we declare his value to us and our love for him.
Jesus told us that if want to know what a person really loves, we should follow the trail of his money. What does our generosity say about how highly we value Jesus?
When our generosity wanes it is often because our love for Christ has waned. How do we recapture that first love we had when we first came to Christ? The answer is to look to the cross; to once again be overwhelmed by God’s love as demonstrated to us on the cross. No greater love has ever been displayed like God’s love for us was on display when his son hung on the cross to pay the penalty of my sin and yours. May we always be captivated by the cross. May it always be our motivations to pour out our time, talent, and treasure for the cause of the gospel.
A GOSPEL RESPONSE TO GENEROSITY
Make a huge sacrifice this week! Do something costly for someone in a way to demonstrate love to them in a way that may shock them. Give someone your whole day. Lavish someone with an expensive dinner. Help clean someone’s garage out. Perhaps you may spend two hours just listening to someone pour their heart out. You will definitely have to give something up, but it will be worth it.
A GOSPEL PRAYER FOR GENEROSITY
Heavenly Father, forgive me for those times I let my love for you wane. Forgive me when I forget the undeserving sacrifice you made for me through giving your son to die on the cross. May your Spirit renew in my heart a passion for you and for your mission. May I be captivated by your love for me in such a way that it is evident in my everyday generosity. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.