A Generous Heart

Hi everyone, Rob here. On Sunday I had to preach about money. We’re doing a series on Luke’s gospel and we were up to chapter 16. In it Jesus tells a story about a shrewd manager who secured his future (as he was about to be fired) by gaining favour with his boss’s wealthy clients. Jesus then says this:

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Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?…No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one  and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (10-13)

I used to think that the best way to honour God with our money was to be thrifty. That is, to not have too much stuff and always get the best deal. This was a necessity at times, like when I was a student or on low wages. But the problem is that I also had a thrifty heart. I was protective of my time and my resources. I wasn’t generous towards others and even though I had a keen sense of justice, I was not generous towards the poor.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe in living within your means and making wise decisions with your money, especially when it comes to avoiding debt. But thrift is not the answer. Tightfistedness with your family and friends is not the answer. Neither is splashing money around recklessly. It’s a fine line, but remember that the enemy is out to steal your joy and being generous towards your own heart helps you to be generous towards others. Allowing our hearts to get in touch with the generosity of God is what we need to do.

A breakthrough for me came last year when I sensed God inviting me to the Wild at Heart Boot Camp in Hawaii led by John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart ministries. It was a big leap for me to believe that it was okay to go; that it was okay for me to invest in my heart; that the money spent would be worth it for the rewards that would come. The fruit in my life since I came back has been proof enough to me that God’s invitation was good. It showed once again that God’s ways are truly higher than ours. My values system of thrift didn’t allow for the fact that God’s heart isn’t for sound management systems, but that his people would truly be alive in him. This is done when his heart invades ours. So we share his generous heart for the poor, the lame and the outcast. But we also share his generous heart for our children, our communities and ourselves. This is not a blank cheque for self-indulgence, but a call to radical worship. It’s a belief that generous hearts lead to generous people and that leads to a truer reflection of the heart of God than thrifty people with closed wallets.

This is true for rich and poor alike. The rich young ruler went away sad after encountering Jesus because his heart was closed to Jesus’ radical solution for his idolatry (read Luke 18:18-30). The poor widow was commended by Jesus for her commitment to give even though she had nothing. Most of all our example is Jesus. He gave everything for us, even pouring out his life for us. The only thing that mattered was doing God’s will and reflecting his unconditional love. So, let’s die to our money idol and come alive to the generous heart of God, revealed fully in Jesus.

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