’Tis the season for Christ-focused and grace-driven generosity to explode like the shining brilliance of angelic glory to a few shepherds on a dark night long ago. As we desire to reflect and magnify the gracious generosity of our Lord and Savior Jesus, here are two examples to help shape and grow our generosity. I referred to these this past Sunday, but I want to put them before you in a more usable and memorable format.
The first example is similar to a scenario that all of us will find ourselves experiencing at some time in the next few weeks. A gift will be given or opened and some will think, “Why this waste?” while others think, “What a beautiful gift!”
The account of the woman’s wasteful worship is recorded in Matthew 26:6-13. A woman poured an excessive amount of “very expensive” ointment on the head of Jesus as an act of devotion and faith. As the disciples watched the wasted dollars of ointment drip from his head on to his clothing, the couch, and the floor, they expressed their thinking that it was wasteful. A nice pair of socks or a sweater would have been much more appropriate.
Jesus’ response went far beyond simply saying that the gift was a beautiful thing; he used her extravagance and devotion as a model for how the gospel should be proclaimed from that moment on throughout the whole world! We, like the disciples, get caught up in thinking in the wrong currency. Jesus looked at the heart of love and devotion behind the gift. Here’s the quote from Archibald Brown that I read last Sunday morning.
This woman did not think simply how little she could give and yet maintain her character. It was, “What does my heart prompt?” Oh, let me ask my soul, while you ask yours this question, “My heart, hast though ever done a magnificent thing for Christ? Hast though ever known what it is to be, in the judgment of the world, extravagant for him?”
Question one: What does your heart prompt? Is your heart so captured and overflowing with God’s loving kindness to you in Jesus that you are driven to lavish displays of affection and generosity toward him and others? This is not to be limited to the giving of money to the church or missionaries. A grace-filled heart overflows in all kinds of excessive behaviors toward God and others.
Let’s determine to let this woman’s worship and Jesus’ excitement about it have a deep impact on our thinking. Ask the question often. Invite others to ask the question with you and reflect together on its impact. Renew your submission to and desire for grace. Expose yourself to grace daily through the Scriptures, submission to the Spirit, and prayer. Give yourself to the Lord daily, especially throughout this busy and deceitful season. As you simply submit and expose your heart to the grace of God in Jesus, generosity will flow in all kinds of ways. You may even have someone accuse you of extravagance!
Growing and gracious generosity does not begin with your checkbook or credit card; it begins with quiet and honest reflection of what excites your heart the most. Sadly, some may find it is easier to write a check.
I will plan to share the second example and question next week.