Friday, February 1, 2013

The Blessings of a Generous Spirit

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.  36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  –Luke 6:34-36 (KJV)

Along with having a loving, humble, and gentle spirit, Jesus commanded His followers to have a generous spirit as well.  Consider how easily wealth can consume people.  I have known many people who were what we would call wealthy, and yet they were unhappy to the point of bitterness.  On the other hand, I have known people who possessed tremendous wealth and they were happy and contented.  What makes the difference?  The difference includes taking to heart what Jesus said about having a generous and giving spirit.  Those with the financial means to help others do so with wisdom, lest they be taken advantage of, yet they also give with a joyful heart.  Then, of course, there are countless people who may not be financially wealthy, yet they too are happy and contented.  This comes from the realization that they have much to be thankful for such as health, family, and salvation through Christ.  Such perspective makes for a contented heart and joyful outlook.

I have joked many times about how if I ever somehow became rich I would have to hire someone I trusted to help keep track of my money.  I must often remind myself that compared to countless people in the world I am rich.  In fact, when compared to a majority of people on the planet I live a lavish lifestyle of millionaire proportions.  I live in a comfortable home, drive a nice car, wear decent clothing, and have plenty of food to eat.  Millions of people in the world live every day without such luxuries.  They also lack even the most basic necessities of life.  When we place this in proper perspective we realize we truly have much for which to be thankful.

Jesus spoke of helping others, even an enemy, with an attitude of expecting nothing in return.  It’s human nature to want something given to us in return for what we have given.  Yet, Jesus said to give (lend) with no thought of getting anything back.  This is when giving for the benefit of others becomes sacrificial.  We desire nothing in return, including any sort of accolades for our gift.  In this manner we practice what the Lord taught about sacrificially giving to those in need, enemy or otherwise. 

I try to not be like the little boy from my childhood who lived on my street.  We both collected Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars and played with them frequently.  This little boy appeared to be most generous, always wanting to give me some of his cars.  However, I soon learned this was a ploy.  He began to ask me for my cars, and if I hesitated, he was quick to remind me of the gifts he had given me.  Needless to say, I soon caught on and became cautious about accepting anything from him.  When we give from a generous and Christ-like spirit we are blessed and we experience the peace of helping others.  As we are blessed, so we then bless those around us.

God bless you today.