Give Yourself Away
MORE TO CHEW ON
Go to the people you love the most in this world and say to them, “I love you, but I love Jesus more.”
Is that unreasonable? Would they be offended? Is it even true?
Ideally, any follower of Jesus would respond and say the same.
Of course we’re a lot more mixed up than that. Sometimes we lie to ourselves about how much we love God, and the level of our commitment. And of course sometimes we pretend to others.
It is a risky business to tell someone else that they are lower on the scale than God. They might get upset, they might do something to remind you of your priorities.
Before Trish and I married I said something like that to her. I argued that if it ever changed she wouldn’t like the person I’d become anyway. Bu it was a risky thing to say, and I knew it at the time.
How would you go? Turn to someone you love and repeat after me, “I love you, but I love God more.”
p.s. only do this if this person you love is also a follower of Jesus.
What sort of things do you give away? Do you give away things that are of no use to you any more? Do you give away your best things? Here’s a creative one – do you give things away strategically where you expect some kind of return?
In truth most of us do all of these things in some measure at different times.
We may give things of great value (time, money, possessions, gifts), especially to our own children, but sometimes also to others.
We may sometimes take things that are past their use-by date in our possession and pass them on to others. That is the heart of our jumble sale, and likewise charity stores.
We may give money towards a purpose or project that we ourselves are personally invested in, knowing full well that we will share in the outcome of the gift.
There is nothing wrong with the above examples, but you could also take those good things and mess them around quite destructively.
You could give your children only those things that are now worthless. Your children should be worth more than that.
You could dump rubbish in the lifeline bin so you don’t have to pay for its removal. And it is well known that some people do that evil.
And you could only invest in things that have a return for you, and thus show yourself to be entirely self-centred.
Giving is a personal thing, but it is also one of those windows into your soul. The healthy generous giver displays their inner health (though not necessarily in the sight of many). The stingy self-centred person displays their inner brokenness in their selfishness and self-serving giving.
That is all everyday truth. It is not even religious. Indeed inside the church there is every kind of giver, and outside the church there is every kind of giver. In my experience I have seen some of the world’s most generous people in the church, and I have seen them outside the church as well.
And some of the worst cases of stinginess and self-interest that I have ever seen have been within the walls of the church. We all need to look within ourselves and ask of our own inner health.
But even then, that is only giving 101. It is the introductory course, and it is a serious matter if we are still struggling with that after many years claiming to follow Jesus.
Jesus said, “You must take up your cross and follow me.” It means nothing less than being willing to actually lose your life, if necessary, in living as a follower of Jesus.
Given that not many of us are called too take in this time and place, let me revise it into a more incisive form. You must be willing to lose everything in this world for Jesus’ sake.
In order to fully gain Jesus, we need to revalue what we have in this world. What value your house? Your family? Your recreational tools? Your job? Your possessions? Your reputation?
Jesus’ instruction – or was it a warning? – was that we need to be ready to lose any or all of these things for his sake.
There are people and things of great value in that list, aren’t there? Surely you would be unhappy to lose some of them. Following Jesus is costly.
What is true in business – you have to spend money to make money – is even truer in big business – you have to spend enormous amounts of money to make even more enormous amounts of money – is even truer in following Jesus.
Here is my claim – there is nothing nearly as valuable, nor anything remotely as close to the purpose of living, than Jesus. He is the ultimate treasure, if you want to think in terms of material things.
Were you to lose all else but gain Jesus, you would make the biggest gain possible.
Woe to us who value things differently, because we make a grave mistake. It has become popular in the churches in this era to declare the things of this world good. While it is true there is plenty of good here, it is untrue that hey have a value to compare to Jesus.
As with Christians in every age, we need to work out what it means to be in the world but not of the world.
We live here and we have all the needs that go with living here. But even as we live here we are members of the Kingdom of God. We will surely pass from this place but never pass from the Kingdom of God.
This is what Jesus tried so hard to explain in his life and his death – God is where all the real value lies. Pursuing God’s will is worth even more than your life. The trick is in believing it, grasping the truth of it and then living it.