The biblical rule of generosity always ultimately boils down not to how much we give, but rather how much we keep.
What impressed Jesus about the poor widow in Mark 12, was not her relatively negligible two-mite offering, but the fact by offering it she had been left almost penniless.
I kind of think that Jesus casts a far more discerning eye on what remains in our pockets as opposed to what we throw in offering baskets. For such often says a lot more about us as people and as materialistic individuals.
Generosity…it’s a heart thing
Of course money, and what we do with it, is perhaps one of the lowest if not crudest gauges of generosity. There are plenty of mean hearts that possess generous pockets.
Jesus made the point that out of the heart proceeds just about everything else. What we are as people emanates from us, from the heart, as opposed to becoming shaped by our circumstances.
All of which means that how I think, act and react toward others will say a lot more about my generosity quotient than how much money I’m willing or not willing to part with.
Withholding love, understanding, forgiveness, acceptance and compassion reflects a far more miserly heart than withholding pounds and pennies.
Holding onto our time, our privacy, our privileges, our ‘way-of-doing-things’ — paints a far more accurate picture of who we are becoming than holding onto our wallets.
When Jesus encouraged us to love our neighbour, be gracious to our enemies, be mindful of the little people, he was encouraging us to live with an expansive heart, a generous spirit.
Whereas it is possible to live with open pockets whilst possessing a closed heart, it is impossible to live with an open-heart and closed pockets.
The heart is the hub of all we are. The operations centre of all we become. Depending on its condition, determines everything else about us including, and especially, the level of generosity with which we live.
We can’t afford not to be generous
When people say, “I cannot afford to be too generous”, it reflects a misunderstanding about the extent and detail of generosity. What we do with our money, let’s not deceive ourselves, says a lot about us as people, but it does not say everything about us.
How we respond to life, to the pain or hurt inflicted on us, to the ridicule or punishment dealt to us; paints a far more detailed and accurate portrait of our hearts and their capacity for generosity, than the level of our financial giving.
Perhaps our two-mite widow impressed Jesus not simply because she gave so extravagantly, but because she demonstrated how little her heart had been captured by the secondary influences of money or “stuff”; which doubtless was a reflection of a greater, fuller freedom with which she lived.
If everything we do in the physical is but a reflection of a deeper reality in the spiritual, then how we give and what we give becomes very significant. Such actions make up the gallery of pictures that reflect our innermost selves as clearly as an exhibition of ones art reflects something of the artist.
Heavens applause in the case of the widow was not about the amount given (it never is), but about the heart it reflects.
Such is the real challenge of living as a disciple. In a world of increasing protection-bias….our need:
to protect our investments…
to protect our pensions…
to protect our egos…
to protect our reputations…
to protect our emotions…
…grace calls us to ever increasing levels of abandon.
The degree to which we heed such calls will be the clearest and truest determiner of our generosity.
Can you and I truly afford not to be generous in this way?
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