Competition for our Generosity
As we looked at what Jesus said about our eye being the lamp of the body (review part 1 here), we came to see that our source of identity – the state of our connection to God – is displayed through our ability to see the needs of others. Our good eye is evidenced through our generosity with the time, talent, and treasure that we have been given.
Character (or lack thereof) is action that is the fruit of one’s identity. (Click here to tweet that.)
But, it is likewise true that our old nature – the false self – and the new nature in Christ are in conflict. Battling as we renew our minds and put off the old, comfortable strategies of the false.
So, what are blocks or competitions for our generosity?
The competition of consumerism is tied to seeing our worth tied to what we have. Our culture is laced with it. Our economy is built on it – to the point that after disasters our political leaders remind us that the best thing we can do is spend money.
If having more stuff or better stuff or newer stuff than others is a pathway to feeling more significant or valuable, then generosity will be negatively impacted.
How does one give away something to which their identity is tied?
At best consumerism is a distraction from developing our foundation in Christ, as worst it is a path of self-sufficiency – wholeness apart from God.
Another one of our cultural mantras. The competition of busyness is evaluating our worth by what we do, how much we do, and how much we produce. Busyness feeds our identity when we struggle to justify quiet time spent listening for God. When spending time with the kids is seen as a waste because there is so much to be done.
Or when we race past those in need on our way to the next thing on our tightly packed schedule.
Busyness dulls the ability to see the need of others and further limits the ability to act on any needs perceived. Generosity takes away from getting more done, the source of worth.
Expectations are linking our perceived value to what people think of us.
Thing is, this person may look the part of being generous – doing the right things – acting generous, but the actions to not come from a desire to intervene in the needs of another.
The actions come from a desire to build their own self up. To be affirmed or needed in order to sustain identity – the sense of self.
Each of these three is a way to build self-security. This makes me think of the investment commercial on TV in which people are walking around with 6 and 7 figure numbers over their heads. The implication being – if I can just get to this level of financial security I will be OK. It is a way to subtly rely on our self and eliminate God and trust from the equation.
Check out Luke 12: 15 – 21. The man in this parable of Jesus had reached his magic number. But instead of bringing freedom in his relationship with God, the pursuit of this source of security caused him to forgo being generous with God.
He lost his good eye because he lost his connection to the Source of Life.
I’m not saying we should not save or prepare for retirement, there are plenty of proverbial principles that encourage wisdom in this area. But does the pursuit of saving, retirement, building security come at the expense of being able to be generous? Is there a balance with being open to seeing a need and having the ability to act?
And this boils down to trust.
In Genesis 22, when God provided the sacrifice in order to spare Abraham’s son Isaac, out of his gratitude Abraham named the place of the sacrifice “The Lord Will Provide”. Literally, the words say “The Lard will SEE”.
Abraham was attributing to God a good eye. God sees the legitimate needs we have and acts on them.
God is a generous God.
Do you trust that God sees?
Click here for part 1 of the series – The Source of Generosity
Click here for part 2 of the series – My Daughter’s Good Eye and the Pig
Click here for part 4 of the series – Living Generously