Articles

The Simple Answer

In Gray Areas, Sermon Spillover, Soul Food on January 18, 2011 by The Spillover

FAITHFUL. INTENTIONAL. PROPORTIONAL. GENEROUS. CHEERFUL.

Pastor Dave used these words on Sunday to describe the type of givers we, as Christ-followers, ought to be. We are to cheerfully give a generous proportion of our resources, in an intentional way, trusting by faith that God will not only take care of us when we give sacrificially, but that He will use those resources to bless others in the way that He sees fit.

The challenge to us is to live as givers.

That’s a nice, proper, church-y phrase, isn’t it?

To “live as a giver” in our present American society makes us, for lack of a better word, weird. To give money away for any reason other than material gain is incomprehensible to most. Being one of the 3 people in the crowd who knew how to finish that Wall Street movie quote Dave threw out on Sunday, I YouTube’d the clip from that movie. “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” the rich man explains.

(I can’t pass on the opportunity to point out, as it relates to this film, the vast levels of personal and corporate greed which built a large part of our economy into an epic house of cards, the collapse of which triggered what we now call the “Great Recession” of recentĀ  years.)

Before Christ changed me, I would have agreed with that clip.

Were any of you raised outside of the church, as I was? By the time you were college-aged, were your role models people who gave everything away or those who consumed and acquired? You can probably guess which one I wanted to be. The point is, sacrificial giving is so anti-what-we’ve-been-taught that, I think, our view of the whole idea is warped. We can convince ourselves that we’re “doing a good job” at giving because of this handful of things we can list off, when really, God wants us to trust Him with everything.

It took me years to grasp this concept, and God is still working on me when it comes to living as a giver. For a while I would ignore it and do what I saw fit. Then, perhaps, something would convict me and I’d up my giving a little bit (and feel really good about myself). I came to a point (and I did this with other topics as well) where I’d wonder, what’s the answer here? What’s the amount? Just tell me so I can do it. In black and white, please.

But it’s not black and white. And, of course, it’s not black and white for a reason.

I hate to simplify things. Actually, scratch that – when it’s appropriate, I love to simplify things. I think the answer of “how much” is simple, even if it’s not numeric.

The simple answer is: everything. The Bible is chock full of clarity when it comes to the fact that a commitment to follow Jesus Christ is not something we are to take lightly. We are to count the cost before we tell Jesus to take control of our lives. Why is that? Because God doesn’t just want part of our life, He wants our whole life. He wants to be the essence of our life. Once our hands are to the plow, we are not to look back. We’re to lay down our very lives for His sake, no matter the cost. And when He is the center of everything we are and everything we do, issues in life become so much more clear.

I’ve struggled with this in my life. Maybe you have, too. This is not a half-step situation. And when you think about it – we have the chance to walk hand-in-hand with God. The very Creator of the Universe invites us into His presence. He invites us to be His hands and feet, to administer His love to a hurt and dying world. He can’t do that if we limit Him to just “part” of our life. We have to get ourselves out of the way and let Him have His way with us, completely.

When we make the commitment to do this, to really die to ourselves for His sake, we can be free of questions like “how much of my time, or money, or energy should I be giving to God and to others?”. Because really, it’s not quantifiable. It’s a lifestyle.

God gave Himself to save us. That’s almost incomprehensible. The radical, awesome, universe-shaking truth that God left glory to come to earth on a rescue mission for you and me is the greatest example of giving imaginable. If we allow it to, this truth can fill us to capacity, and then some. God’s love is inexhaustible. My prayer for us, you and I, is that we allow this love to overwhelm us in a very real way, so that we’re moved to our core to give our entire life to God, for Him to use as He wishes.

How much did the original disciples give of themselves? Everything. And they changed the world.

A group of people from Canton, Michigan, committed to giving every last piece of their lives to be used by God can change the world, too.

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