Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’… When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
Luke 18:18, 22–25
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:24, 33
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
If justice is first and foremost a characteristic of God, then we shouldn’t be surprised that it saturates the life and ministry of Jesus. In Matthew and Mark, one in ten verses are directly about justice. For Luke’s Gospel, this goes up to one in seven.
In Jesus, God’s perfect justice – the justice that the law commanded, the psalmists prayed for, and the prophets longed to see – takes human form. And the incarnate Son demonstrates another cornerstone of biblical justice – radical generosity.
Jesus teaches that generous people are full of light (Matthew 6:22), and even tells rich people to give to the poor. In his very coming, we see a God who loved, and so gave, even when it meant giving his only Son. And in the cross, we see a Saviour who willingly gave himself unto death, in the ultimate act of generosity, to restore every broken relationship.
Jesus, the most righteous and privileged of all, chose to disadvantage himself for the sake of others. And we’re commanded to seek first his kingdom, called to do justice too. So, Christ’s pattern of generosity is imitated by the early church (Acts 2:45), providing a compelling model for our own lives today.
But this isn’t a faceless demand required to earn salvation, nor is it a comforting form of altruism. We don’t even give primarily because of need, but because it’s a fitting response to our crucified King.
What we have is not our own, but belongs to God. He then entrusts it back to us, to steward wisely. He wants us to experience the freedom that comes when he – not money – is Lord over our lives. He invites us to share his heart for the poor, as we use what we have to love God and neighbour.
Such generous love finds practical expression through giving. This will certainly involve our finances – generosity sometimes involves giving more than our money, but it’s never less than that – and it’ll require us to genuinely inconvenience ourselves to serve others. Does your giving do that?
But, as we see in the Gospels, generosity will also look different for different people. Where are the needs on your frontline, and how might God want you to help meet them? What colleagues, friends, or coursemates might need your expertise, time, or resources?
Through your actions this week, both big and small, may God weave generosity into the fabric of your everyday life.
Editor, Word for the Week
Where is God calling you to be generous this week? Join in the conversation in the comments below.