2 Corinthians 9:6–8 (NASB95)
6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
Jesus talked to the Pharisees about how they tithe their little spice plants out of obedience to the law (and so that they looked good to themselves and others) but ignored the “weightier” matters of the law (love, mercy, forgiveness, . . .).
After learning from Pastor Andrew Farley I see myself walking in the Pharisees’ path instead of Jesus’. I have been tithing under compulsion, because of the blessings and curses found in Malachi, not because I am a “cheerful giver.” I have even written posts about tithing and encouraged my sons to tithe.
Jesus wants me to give the way he gives: liberally, extravagantly, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. Jesus doesn’t give to me because he will reward himself if he does and curse himself if he doesn’t. He gives to me because he LOVES ME. He is filled with “hilarity” (root word of “cheerful”) when he gives to me.
I have prayed to give with hilarity and God has granted my request. The first time I gave with hilarity my wife and I gave to friends of ours who were in a difficult financial spot. I was filled with hilarity . . . and love, for God who enabled us to give, and for my friends who were crying they were so happy at what God had done for them.
That kind of joy I have never received by following the law and giving 10% of my income motivated by blessings and curses.
Instead, Jesus calls us to hilarity. And he has promised to supply an abundance for us to give.
I’m listening to Keith Green’s “When I hear the praises start” and a thought struck me that at least some of my tears when I meet Jesus will be because some people chose to be left behind. One person I love said that if I am going to talk about Jesus with them I can’t talk about any of my experience with Jesus. They have essentially said, “I don’t want to talk about Jesus with you.” And I have honored that. One of the first things Jesus taught me when he was drawing me with chords of loving-kindness was He will not force anyone to love Him. In fact, love cannot be forced. Jesus respects the one I love and their right to choose even if they choose to reject Him. This is hard. And I cannot think about it long.
God has given me the solution: I can pray for them. Lord, would you create the circumstances the one I love needs to see your love clearly and completely. Fight for them dear Jesus. They are hurt, give them healing from your hand. They fear to love again, help them know you are faithful and true, the only one who is. They have lost at love so many times they protect themselves with a bitter and cynical spirit. Absorb their attacks and let them know you will absorb more, infinitely more, until they realize you will never leave them. When satan reminds them of their sins, remind them their sins have been more than paid for by you, specifically for them. Lord, do not give them rest until they know how much you love them, that you love them just the way they are, that you will never leave them if they want you in their life, you are theirs for the taking.
Luke 17:7–10 NASB95
“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? “But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ ”
I have asked Jesus to work through me to do his will. Then, after he has done this, I get proud because I think I have done something good and I am worthy of praise. The above verses ground me to reality: I do not deserve thanks and praise but rather Jesus does. And after Jesus gets the credit for what he has done, and I realize that my role was only to follow his orders and do what I ought to do and that I do not deserve praise, then I can properly see myself and my role.
Treating others with the love of Jesus is the bare minimum, it is expected.
When God was contemplating creating men and women – in his image – he had a lot to think about. He decided that, like himself, he would make them able to decide for themselves if they wanted to love Love or whether they would rather live for themselves. God knew before the foundation of the earth that though God would make men and women Very Good, Adam would fail to protect Eve, Eve would be deceived by satan and men and women would rebel against him, against Love. God decided that the soul that rebelled against Love could not live with him, it must have its own place to exist away from the Love it hated with such passion. Previously God had made a place for satan and demons, and God now decided this is where those people who hated Love would reside after they had died a Second time.
Though all people would hate Love, Love loved all people, each person individually. Love decided he would take the place of people that hated him and suffer and die for their wrongs himself. And so Love was crucified before the foundations of the world. And God decided, Love would rise again to bring Love to all that wanted him.