Wineskins Archive

December 4, 2013

Gratitude and Generosity (Nov 2012)

Filed under: — @ 8:42 pm and

By Keith Brenton

I’m not a very generous person.

Let me just start by confessing that. So in breaching protocol and violating political correctness and leaving-preaching-and-getting-on-to-meddling by writing this article, I have to admit that it is written to me as much or more as it is to anyone else. I need to learn this. So I’m not going to write very much of it.<br><br>I’m going to let better-qualified people handle the task. Because I know how I react when I’m asked to give.

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” ~ Jesus, Matthew 5:42

Awwww, but it’s mine, Lord. I earned the money to buy it. I wanted it. I deserve it. Besides, no one will appreciate it more than I will! And if I lend it, who knows if it’ll be returned? If I have to lend it out, then lose it, somebody’s going to hear about it!

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” ~ Jesus, Matthew 6:2-3

You mean I can’t even list it on my tax return as a donation and get a deduction? Lord, that’s just … well, it’s un-American! And what’s wrong with letting my name get listed as a generous donor? If others worked harder and earned more, they could be generous donors, too!

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~ Jesus, Luke 6:38-39

Now that’s what I wanted to hear! There ought to be some reward or spiff or bonus or something for giving! I like the idea of getting even more back. And I know just what to do with all that extra income …

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” ~ Jesus, Luke 12:33

What? Sell my stuff? Give it away? You mean that wasn’t just advice for a rich young ruler? Look, I’m all for heavenly treasure and all, Lord, but it don’t pay the bills!

“The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” ~ Jesus, Luke 12:48-49

Are … are you saying there’s … there’s a punishment for being given a lot but giving little?

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” ~ Jesus, Luke 14:33

You mean … I can’t follow You unless … I’m more like You. Is that it? It’s just that it’s so hard to be aware of that all the time … to plan to give and to see opportunities to give and be ready for them. And when I do it, to not do it for myself. It just seems like I’d never get to the point where it just became so natural that I didn’t think about it ….

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “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.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” ~ Jesus, Matthew 25:34-46

Lord, I know it’s easy to miss seeing You in every person I see … and I know I’ve been given a lot. I just don’t know if I have enough, well, presence of mind to recognize You. To love others like You do. Can … can You give me that, too?

<blockquote>”You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” ~ Paul, 2 Corinthians 9:11</blockquote>

Wait; where did Jesus go? Paul? Are you saying I can learn this by doing? Or that He’ll lend me His own Spirit? His discernment; His vision? Or both? And that part about giving and serving. You mean … something I do could actually help others be grateful to God? How?

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” ~ Colossians 3:17

Well, that’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? Not worrying about getting the credit. Giving without getting. Giving glory to God through Christ … through You, Lord. Right? Will that make me more like You?

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” ~ Paul, Philippians 2:5-11

I think I understand now.

I have earned much of what I have. But I have also been given much. I shouldn’t let that generosity stop with me. I need to give of what I have; give also of who I am.

Because You, Lord … You gave all of that up and poured all of it out for me. You lived that out every moment you walked on this earth:

Give and receive with grace.

Give and receive grace.<br><br>Give out of gratitude.

Because I have have so much to be grateful for.

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