(This is the final installment of the four-part series on generosity.)
In The Source of Generosity, we received Jesus’ teaching on generosity by looking at the Hebrew idiom of the body’s eye – either good or bad. But as we read Matthew 6:19 – 24, the discussion of the eye and the source of a generous nature is in response to where we – as disciples – are storing our treasure.
Treasure, Jesus says, can be stored on earth or in heaven.
Storing up treasure on earth I understand. In fact, I’m unintentionally very good at it. All of us have houses, garages, attics, and storage units that speak to our ability to store up earthly treasure.
In fact, Jesus gives this parable in Luke 12:15-21 as a reminder that our worth as people is not tied to what and how much stuff we have and the fruitlessness of storing up treasure on earth:
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
This is part of the freedom available to us in Christ, our value – a positive sense of self – is independent from what we have. We don’t have to protect, compete for, or compare in order to maintain our image and identity. In fact, this parable demonstrates that our false sense of wholeness that we create with our possessions can be disrupted at any moment by God.
But what about the alternative? Where does treasure in heaven come from? How are we rich toward God.
And here we get to a verse, the implications of which blow my mind. May I present to you Proverbs 19:17 –
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
Lending to God.
Let that sink in.
God so identifies himself with the poor, the broken, the downtrodden, the discarded, the dismissed – the least of these – that he says by being kind to them HE GOES INTO OUR DEBT.
He feels that he owes us for our kindness.
Maybe it is because these are the people open to abandoning the search for wholeness apart from God.
Maybe it is because these are the people who will see the kindness as the light coming from our body (the good eye).
But this is our treasure in heaven.
God repaying the debt that he feels like he owes because of our loving-kindness.
Not kindness that supports our false self. Not kindness that we do to be seen by others. That type of kindness has received its reward.
This is kindness that comes from a self that is rooted in Christ. That expects nothing in return.
This is living generously.
Who are the ‘least of these’ you have most recently been kind to?
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 3 of the series – Competition for our Generosity