There is no doubt, the kingdom of God is topsy-turvy. God’s values continually flip ours on their head. At core, God is a giver: he did not clasp his fingers tightly upon his privilege and power but gave himself, fully, freely and sacrificially for us. And, here’s the kicker, the Spirit is at work to make us like him.
So we tight-fisted, fearful followers of Jesus are summoned to unclench our grip on what we possess, unloose the purse strings and convert our wallets and bank accounts into resources for the kingdom. We find this tough – yet, it’s a foundational act of discipleship that will transform our lives.
So now that we are entering a time of unprecedented price hikes and a “cost of living crisis” it seems as good a time as any to talk about God’s topsy-turvy approach to the grace of giving and the blessings of a lifestyle of generosity. Here are a few thoughts as we head towards Sunday and our theme: “To Give is to Gain!”
Giving ran deep in the lifestyle of Paul and the first Christians.
“remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.” Acts 20:35
So here’s the rub: if it is more blessed to give than receive, then just how blessed are you, and me!? Ouch! Now that is topsy-turvy. We all gravitate to an idea of blessing which has more to do with what I hold onto rather than what I let go of.
Yet the Lord’s idea of blessing means filling empty hands so that they, in turn, can pass what they contain onto others. And it’s not just money but time, wisdom, skill, experience, influence, help and all sorts of good things that are ours “in the heavenly realms” and the earthly world. He gives to those who give because he knows it won’t get blocked and hoarded but will find its way strategically onto the frontline of his purposes.
No doubt each of us has been blessed abundantly – the bible tells us so! However, sometimes we find it difficult to believe that God has blessed us with his resources, whilst at other points, we worry that if we give away what we have we will have nothing left.
But, did I say the kingdom of God is topsy-turvy? Here’s the kingdom principle: it’s when we give we receive, when we pour out that we are filled. Or as scripture says when we sow generously we reap generously (2 cor 9:7-9) and know the blessing of God’s abundance.
So here is a plea – practise generosity. Ask the Spirit to speak to you about where and who to give to.
Learn about giving, listen to some teaching or read a book.
Practise stewardship, that is to carefully and prayerfully make the most strategic use of all that God has given.
Stretch yourself and give until it hurts and, while you are at it, have fun giving – give where no one expects it.
Now just to be clear. This is not a begging letter from the church for money, though we should all give generously to our own local body of believers. Rather, this is a call to life-changing discipleship! This is an invitation to live the blessed life of the upside-down kingdom.
Journalist Francis Spufford paraphrases Jesus:
“behave as if nothing you gave away could make you poorer, because you can never run out of what you give. Behave as if you didn’t have to hold anything back. Don’t grip your life with tight anxious hands, unclench those fingers… let it go… God doesn’t want your careful virtue he wants your reckless generosity”
Or as Paul says,
“Since you excel in everything—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
Let it go!