Living Life Open-Handed

“Give and it shall be given unto you.”  I don’t know how many times and in how many contexts I’ve heard those famous words of Jesus repeated.  I’ve heard them in missions conferences, messages on tithing, and basically any sermon on financial generosity.  Usually, it was in one ear, out the other.  I heard it, I knew what they were saying, and, yes, I knew givers didn’t go broke.  But what good is a generous giver if they are tight-fisted with the other areas of their life?

Oops, what about the context?

What’s interesting about the principle in Luke 6:38 is that it wasn’t really given to encourage people to be financially generous.  While material generosity is certainly a part of Jesus’ commands in Luke 6, there’s much more to the chapter than that.  This section of Luke is more focused on generosity with our lives.  Jesus commanded his disciples of all ages to be generous with their love, generous with their forgiveness, generous with their prayers, and generous with their mercy.  He has called us to live life open-handed.

This is hard for us to do because we are born with a mine mindset, aren’t we?  We are always looking out for #1—my money, my time, my wife, my kids, my food, my priorities, and my life.  We live life with a scarcity mentality, with fists clenched tight around the illusion of our possessions.  I don’t think that Jesus looks on our giving with appreciation if he sees the remainder of our life flowing from selfishness.

Generosity that goes beyond the offering plate

Here’s the truth: Jesus isn’t after your money.  He’s after your life—all of it.  Jesus is still calling His disciples to live lives of irrational generosity.  There are so many ways to carry out generosity beyond the offering plate.

Generosity is often irrational in the world of business, where the primary goal for most business owners is profit margins and sales goals.  Irrational generosity is setting aside the pie charts and focusing on making a difference.  Steve Jobs was no disciple of Jesus, but a simple reading of his philosophy was that his main focus was not for Apple to be a valuable brand.  He wanted to make a difference with his products, and it turns out he created a valuable brand in the meantime.  It should be no surprise how Apple has been the beneficiary of “give and it shall be given.”

Unfortunately, generosity is even scarce in the one type of relationship where it should be exhibited the most—marriage!  No wonder so many marriages are crumbling.  You know what the real problem is in most marriages? One (or both parties) stop thinking about what they can give to the relationship and start thinking about what they can gain.  Turns out Jesus was right again.  You get more from your marriage when you give more to your marriage.  Give and it shall be given.

Strangely enough, Jesus even seems to pay our generosity back with the currency of time.  I often struggle with the temptation of putting the needs of others aside because I can feel so busy and seem to have so much to do.  But I’ve found that the greatest enemies of my time at this stage in my life are not needy people around me; the greatest enemy of my time is the flesh within me.  Usually, when I take care of slaying my own dragons of distraction and disorganization, I have enough time available to live life open-handed.  And, as it turns out, people are more than happy to return the favor when the time comes.  Give and it shall be given.

I’d like to hope that 2018 is the year of many things for me.  But, more than anything, I hope it is a year of living life open-handed.

 

 

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