“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” – Matthew 6:24-27
This morning – early – my Saturday small-group Bible-study met at WFPC to continued our conversation on the subject of “giving.”
One point we circled back to frequently was how deeply grateful we all are for the lives we are privileged to lead. Then, as we continued to talk, sharing openly and honestly both as friends and disciples of Jesus, it occurred to me how closely generosity is related to gratitude.
The more we appreciate the blessings that define our lives here (as children of God, as husbands to amazing women, as members of loving families, as participants in a vibrant faith community, as residents of a super-cool small town in a beautiful state, as men who may not be wealthy but certainly are rich), the more natural it is – the more “normal” it becomes – to be liberal in our giving, and generous with what we have come to realize was never really ours in the first place.
Children of the King:
If we live as “Children of the King”, then two factors are at play. One – we own absolutely nothing ourselves, because it all belongs to the King (I’m not using the word “king” to suggest that God is exclusively masculine, but because it has the right tone). Two – our job, as emissaries and ambassadors, is to steward, to share, and to testify to the King’s goodness via the way that we connect ordinary people with more and more of the King’s abundance.
If I am ungrateful, puffed up, full with pride, entitled, greedy for more, and/or judgmental toward those who are not so privileged – then generosity is unlikely.
The intentional practice of gratitude equips us spiritually for generosity.
My conclusion, then, is that the best way to encourage people to share is not to persuade them via guilt, browbeating, shame, or any kind of arm-twisting… but instead to immerse ourselves in conversations about blessings and gratitude, and to invite the less generous into a more personal relationship with Jesus – to the extent that, first, they give everything they are, and everything they have back to God.
A Prayerful Thought:
Everything that I am, everything that I have, everything that I long for, everything that I hope for, I offer it all to you, Lord; in the name of the one who became nothing so that I might have access to everything, so that I might – in turn – lay it all down. Amen – DEREK
(gallery – a few of the feathered friends who helped with today’s lesson…)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.