Things that happen, of a mindset not reflected in the title of this offering, among people of one’s acquaintance are often a source of grief. A reminder to pause and consider. Especially when it is among those who call Jesus Lord. Let’s just say only that much at the outset, without going into details.
What it illustrates, among little people and the great and powerful alike, is the nature of the real plague that besets humanity in general, and infests the USA in particular. In short the plague consists of a general lack of both the understanding and practice of both generosity and gratitude. There’s a petulant unwillingness to live without self on the throne. This has its root in lack of any real connection with the Almighty Who is Love. Or it displays in the churches a banal carnality and no embrace of growing up into the fullness of Christ. It is cause for mourning for those who persist in the ways of death.
It is a call to be truly born again of the Spirit, from Above. It’s not our natural way.
Much of the “blame” for this ought, in my opinion, to be laid at the feet of these patently antichrist, corporate, show biz churches – which program their willing devotees with messages of success, prosperity, and “divine entitlement” pseudo gospels (where Jesus died to set you free to live your dreams). While swaying to the rhythm of a rock concert which emotionally opens them up to the message that follows. For good or for ill.
But that in itself is a discussion for another day.
Scripture is clear, cutting to the chase that – as we say it in today’s vernacular – what goes around comes around.
For example, (from the Amplified Version) we find in Galatians 6:6-10.
“Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].”
Could we apply this to the practices of not only generosity and gratitude, but that of stinginess and complaining? The Way of Light versus the way of darkness both operate according to the principle of planting / sowing and reaping.
What characterizes lives lived in generosity and gratitude, versus the stingy and complaining and covetous? Psalm 37 has much to say on this. Pause for a few moments and read it.
Has anything changed in the way God’s principles operate? I would offer that the practice of generosity and gratitude (and some praise too, which is faith expressed, especially the sacrifice of praise when we don’t feel like it!) may be the keys to moving through the challenging, chaotic times now unfolding around us.
This is the opposite of how those who lust after power know only the m.o. of complaint, force, self interest, and covetousness. For awhile, if we can see it in Psalm 37, it may seem that they will always have the upper hand, but it will not always be so. Yet, everything is being revealed – including how we may pass the test of faith. Especially faith expressed as generosity and gratitude. Trust His promises! Let us be encouraged.
Reinforcing the idea, as we know – whatsoever you sow, that shall you also reap. Just because we live in a world system run by the devil, we do not have to think, speak, act, or react like devils. It may be difficult to live in a contrary world of ungodliness, but the point of it is to learn to live above it, so to speak. We have been called by the Gospel to be in it, but not of it. And we are called to grow in Christ likeness.
We should come to realize eventually that Christ hearing and obeying Christians have something of a “metaphysical edge” when putting generosity into practice, with the understanding of sowing and reaping. This principle, of putting actual virtue into practice, in so many ways is woven into the fabric of reality like an electrical circuit, being sent forth and then returning back. Somewhat like breathing. Sowing what is good and loving brings back its harvest. Let us not grow weary and lose heart!
Times like these challenge us, and we tend to forget, getting instead caught up in the darkness.
But no, we are called to be lights against that darkness.
This is why Jesus lived, exemplified, and taught as He did. Even His life laid down for us, with His blood shed, yielded up a resurrection. (This of course was so much more. Golgotha followed by His empty tomb was the greatest cosmic covert jail break ever pulled off throughout all of history and the entire created order.)
Our Heavenly Father intends for His children in Christ to be receivers of much good, even in the midst of tribulation, but that will never happen if we participate in the world’s mindset – that of taking, deceiving, fraud, cheating, theft, lying, forcefulness, meanness, and all such things.
This is the way the “powers that (are permitted to) be” operate. This is exactly why their agenda will fail at some point. They sow to the flesh, to self interest, to the defeat of others – especially the children of God and God Himself. They cannot do otherwise. All they know is force and “power over.” Even to the point of thinking they are making of themselves gods!
Jesus, on the other hand commends into our hands another way, His way.
Here’s what He explains, as a dispute erupts among His disciples as to who is the greatest. Luke 22:24-27 KJV. “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”
The one Who had every right to be served came to serve! The Creator loves and redeems His creatures. But redeemed, we cannot bring the darkness into His kingdom of light and life. Let that sink in. He admonishes through Paul, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.
Each and every day is another chance to love, to give, to be generous with one another. It is a day for thanksgiving living, with all done in His name and to His glory. That is our worship. We can pray in the morning, “Lord, show me someone today who needs to be a recipient of Your generosity. Let me be the conduit of Your grace this day and every day. Amen”.
We are not here to connive, take, or even steal what we think we “deserve.” As fallen rebels, what we deserve – we must acknowledge – is everlasting separation from our God and Father. But in Christ our Savior, He has purchased and won us back to Himself, removing us from the kingdom of darkness, and bringing us into His kingdom – where we are to live, move, and have our being in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, as His own. And “the rules” here are not the same as those of the prison planet.
Rather those ways of living the blessed life are clearly outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. We can start now.
Any time self gets in the way, and we start to “sing in the key of me,” then we put ourself on a collision course with some sort of disaster, even if it’s only another “bad” day. That cycle will go on until we learn that we can create at least a mood that will carry us above the circumstances, seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (See Colossians 1:1-4)
The old behaviors must be reckoned dead, for indeed in Him we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God. We’ve been made new, to walk in newness of life. (See Ephesians 2:4-10)
The “world” – that which is under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19) hates a selfless and generous Christian. So it is of benefit that we be laser focused on full surrender to all that Jesus taught, commanded, and promised. There will be many distractions, and temptations, and our own feelings may say, “Just give up.” No!
Think again –
While the world beats itself up with control, connivery, conceit, consuming rather than contributing, the child of God is gracious and lends, gives, receives back from our Father, and so lives above the world, in essence, although he or she is still in the world. This is the heavenly way of life. From this we know by experience that our Heavenly Father is trustworthy. As good as His word! We give and receive from His endless stores of bounty, the infinite abundance of His treasury. (Reminder: This is to be done “in secret” without fanfare.) We give forth as His administrators on earth – as conduit and circuit, as His good flows out of us and returns often vastly multiplied. Quietly. Little tabernacles of the Holy Spirit.
Warning! This is not godliness as a means of gain! It is so that the world may see Jesus and experience the reality of God Who is Love. God Who rules the world. God in Jesus Christ, to Whom is given all authority in Heaven and on Earth. God Who calls them to Himself. He calls us to be the “little Christs” who not only speak but live His Truth.
This is exactly while the agendas of evil will fail. They do not know the ways of our Heavenly Father. Instead they live as arch connivers and consumers, full of jealousy and hatred, desiring to steal what God has given His own. They are joyless and always seeking more power and wealth, but it never satisfies. Generosity toward them, on our part, may mean to pray for them, for they are seriously bound prisoners of war, owned, enslaved by the ways of evil.
Meanwhile we can live and love as joyful givers, being about our Father’s business – which is to share His good: spiritual, physical, fiscal, according to our ability, with whomever He brings our way or puts upon our heart.
Every day should be Christmas in this regard. Nothing is ours, yet everything is ours to give in His name. Fearless generosity toward others. Outrageous gratitude to Him! Could this be the challenge of the times?
Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.
Until next time,
phasing into and out of the blue.