Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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January 30 – Renewed In Generosity – By God’s Grace

“So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”  2 Cor. 9:5-8

Devotional Thought For The Day

Paul goes on to make several points in regard to this matter of generosity and our offerings – that God generously and freely gives us all things [they are not, strictly speaking, “our” earnings], that He gives them to us not only so that others may be blessed by our generosity but that we may be blessed by it – that our righteousness be increased so that “you will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way,” and that ultimately thanksgiving to God and His praise is increased and elevated through our generosity. [vs. 9-13]  He also identifies this generosity as part of and produced by our “confession” of Christ:  “they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ.” [v.13]  Quite an abundance of “goodness” that come through this “grace” of giving that God makes “abound” to us!  It is obvious which is the greater gift – not the material wealth and things freely given to us by God, but the inner blessedness and beauty of the generous and “cheerful giver.”

We also know well what our sinful flesh values most highly and focuses on – the material wealth and possessions.  These are an object not only of our hunger and need, but of our selfishness and greed, and they form a significant part of the base for our pride toward others, and our desire for prestige, power, and prerogative. Hence the temptation toward an idolatry of “things, wealth, and possessions” that makes complete sense to most people.  The ultra-wealthy almost always give out of a super-abundance; they are not willing to sacrifice an iota of what constitutes the center of their being, what really matters to them.  We struggle with the same temptations – knowing that what is given away erodes this idolatrous base of our sinful nature – not just the loss of what we are selfish and greedy for [pleasure], but also the erosion of the base of our pride, power, prerogative, and privilege.  This is what the “grace” of God is battling against within us, as God seeks to bless us also with the “grace of giving” so that we might “be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.” [v.11]

In view of this, it is utterly abhorrent that anyone should “take pride” in what they have “given.”  Likewise, it is dark wickedness to give with “strings attached,” for the sake of gaining power and influence.  The same is true of “giving” for the sake of manipulating and controlling others, bringing them “under obligation” to us.  All of this comes from the sinful nature, and actually negates any and all value of such “giving.” It is certainly inconsonant with God’s giving – which is without strings or coercion, so that our giving can remain free, “not reluctantly or under compulsion.”  The goal in all of this is that our hearts and our love become like God’s, so that our “giving” becomes like His – so that any and all thanksgiving and glory for our “giving” goes to God and not us.  This selfless love is quite difficult for us to learn, and even harder to exercise – and so we can see and understand the hardness, coldness, and stubbornness of our sinful hearts.  Still, God promises great blessedness to those willing to learn from Him and to receive this grace of giving from Him.

So we see how proper giving and generosity bears witness to Christ.  His self-sacrifice for our redemption, salvation, and eternal life in heaven is the ultimate generosity of love!  One who grasps Christ by faith, who knows and believes God’s great love for us in Christ Jesus, is introduced to an entirely different way of “being” and living.  He understands love and “godliness” in a completely new way – and recognizes the blessedness of being incorporated, renewed, and molded into this new way of being and living.  The unbeliever cannot understand these things, those who think they must perform and earn their place with God.  They are stuck in the idolatry of self – and their “giving” is always a calculated selfishness.  But God has greater blessings in mind for His dear children of faith, and it is He Who gives them to us – in spite of our sinful nature!  So let us also pray God for ourselves – that He strengthen our faith and joy in His love so that we may excel also in this grace of giving.  It is no “selfishness” to desire the blessing of such selflessness, not when such blessedness is God’s will and perfectly consonant with His love.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, You are love, and You have loved us with a perfect love that casts out all fear.  Grant that we may grasp and understand and trust Your love, so that we may be freed from the fears and greed and evils of our sinful nature.  We too desire the blessing of being more like You, especially in our generosity and our devotion to all that is truly good.  Grant all these things to us by Your grace, Amen.