Freely you have received, freely give
When I think about the how Jesus taught about and showed the Kingdom of God it gets me excited. The Kingdom of God is really God’s reign and rule; it’s what it looks like when Jesus has His Way in a situation, life or circumstance. One of the most significant marks of Jesus’ Way is GENEROSITY.
When we look at religious life in our land we probably don’t immediately think of the word GENEROSITY. There are some incredible examples of people of faith loving the poor, giving away to those in need, opening their homes to the vulnerable and yet Christians often get labelled as judgemental and stingy. But God is not judgemental or stingy. In fact, He is exceedingly generous.
Religion teaches us to cover up our weakness, to fill in the places we lack, to try harder to be better people. But it doesn’t work. Why? Because we don’t have the resources, in and of ourselves, to deal with our brokenness, pain, sin and shame. We’re powerless to change our inner life. We can cover it over with better behaviour if we work especially hard but we need a different approach if we want to be in the business of seeing real transformation and change in people’s lives. We need grace. And a good way to talk about God’s Grace is “His Extravagant Generosity.”
The bible says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not die but have everlasting life” [John 3:16]. Jesus is God’s ultimate expression of generosity, His gift of grace.
So, what has that got to do with us? Well the bible says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16. In other words, if we have said Yes to Jesus, we’ve received incredible grace. We’ve gained access to God’s extravagantly generosity and His unlimited resources. Religion is stingy, it focuses on what we lack and therefore it withholds blessing from others. Jesus’ Way is different – it is marked by generosity, it focuses on what God has done and given and therefore freely gives blessing to others.
What do we do with that? Well, if we experience generosity ourselves and we want to live Jesus’ Way, then it follows that we are also to be exceedingly generous. What does that look like? Well, it involves loving the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for those in need. It also includes seeing Jesus show up in people’s lives in powerful ways such as healing, deliverance and resurrection life. Jesus said to His followers, “Freely you have received; freely give.” You may have heard that before. Do you know what the context for that command is? “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matt 10:8. So, God’s generosity is expressed in supernatural ways.
Throughout the gospels, FAITH and COMPASSION seem to be ‘release buttons’ for powerful encounters with God’s generosity – supernatural multiplication of food, healing, deliverance, resurrection. As we begin to understand God’s generous heart towards others we catch His compassion for them and we realise the resources available to us as His ambassadors.
This week we’re focusing on the theme of GIVE. So why don’t you ask yourself the question - how can we continue to grow in generosity and compassion? We want to be a people who love people in practical ways; to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, care for those in need. We also want to be a people who reach for the impossible, knowing that every supernatural expression of God’s Kingdom is a sign of His incredible generosity. And He loves to give. Let’s pray this week for a fresh encounter with God’s lavish generosity and to have courage to give it away.