Giving Your Best
What more, you might ask, can be said about giving that hasn’t been said in this last month. Well next week we begin to look at ‘taking’, but today for one last effort we continue with giving.
We measure what we give to everything, if we are giving in a healthy way. Addictions, compulsive disorders and obsessions may lead us to give without proper consideration, but healthy giving is always measured.
That makes healthy generosity all the more powerful. When, having carefully considered our commitments, priorities, alternatives, we generously give the best we have to something, we make a powerful statement.
The same is true when we do this in the Kingdom of God. We consider what the world offers and requires; we consider what God offers and requires; we weigh up the many different good things into which we can invest ourselves; and then we give our best in some particular ways. It makes a powerful statement – perhaps our most powerful statement.
Jesus gave his best to God, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, those with whom he came into contact. In his death he gave his very best for us all. Rightly his followers aught to do the same.
The world is not a neutral ground. The people of this world are not free to make unbiased, uninfluenced decisions in respect to God. I have believed that for many years, yet I’ve been reminded of it strongly in some of the unusual reading I’ve been doing lately.
You may or may not subscribe to the heaven/hell understanding of things. But most people assume that the heaven/hell question and the God/devil question are the same. That is, they think that if the heaven/hell option is true then the God/devil thing is probably also true. Likewise they think that if the heaven/hell option is untrue then God/devil are also untrue.
While believing in God, many people believe that Jesus defeated sin and death for all of humanity. This alternative, they argue, leaves it for God to decide the rewards for faith and goodness and the penalties for disbelief and evil.
In a fairly strong way I don’t really care. Either way, God is in charge and God will work it out – has already worked it out.
But it is altogether wrong to assume that you can write off the devil and associated evil in this world. There is plenty of documented evidence of supernatural evil in the world to this day. And if that evil has had the whole history of humanity in which to poison us towards God, it is perhaps no surprise that opposition to God is so advanced.
The world is not a neutral ground regarding God.
So it is that even when it comes to followers of Jesus, there is much talk of “not taking things too far” and “keeping your feet firmly on the ground”. We wouldn’t want to be too different, would we?
Well as followers of Jesus we are different. Very different! Or at least we are supposed to be. Our treasures are being stored up in heaven, not on earth. Any treasure on earth is a trust from God ours to be generous with.
What is on our list of treasures on earth? Life and health? Money and possessions? Gifts and abilities? Our faith? All of these things are ours to share with others, for God’s sake.
But I can’t ignore the parable of the sheep and the goats. The more I read it the more obvious that it is directed at those who aught to have known better. It is directed at God’s people.
However you read it, water it down, or try to remove the danger, it speaks about a real consequence for not doing stuff. Specifically not doing stuff for people.
This is the giving we have been talking about – giving your time, energy, abilities and resources to enact God’s Kingdom in this world.
You have that potential – God’s Kingdom of life and love can be made visible in this world by you, and nothing can stop you except you.
Jesus gave his best. Why would we give anything less?