I am convinced that one of the key indicators of a transformed heart through new birth is generosity as worship. Not simply generosity, mind you, but generosity as an act of stewardship and worship. (There are individuals who are generous and aren’t “born again” – it’s their natural inclination or trained response… fortunate people!)
Money and possessions are a big deal! The natural, unredeemed, response to money and possessions is idolatry – the tendency is to worship them! Humankind, left to themselves, will tend to do one of two things: Either envy others because of a lack of money and possessions; or be eaten up with greed and materialism with an insatiable desire for more and more. In either case the issue is idolatry – money and possessions have become a “god!”
I just finished reading a wonderful exhortation and tribute to some wonderful, generous Christians in II Corinthians 8 & 9! (Take it from me, those two chapters are worth reading and reflecting upon!) First of all, Apostle Paul applauds the believers in “the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part… they gave according to their means and beyond their means of their own free will… giving themselves first of all to the Lord.” Wow! What a wonderful testimony to transformation through the gospel! What authentic generosity! (II Corinthians 8:1-5)
Then Paul exhorts the believers in Corinth, “See that you excel in this act of grace also!” (verse 7)
He uses Jesus as the model – the prime example of selfless generosity: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.” (verse 9) From heaven’s glory and wealth to earth to ultimately give Himself on the cross for our sins! What selfless giving!
Tragically, we are sometimes inclined to get a little self-occupied and a bit proud over the size of our gifts and the extent of the sacrifices we have made. Apostle Paul fixes that problem with his final words in chapter 9… Think you’ve given a lot? Think you’ve made a lot of sacrifices? “Thanks be to God for His INEXPRESSIBLE GIFT! Next to His giving, yours and mine is meager and paltry!
Here’s my prayer… Oh Lord, may I guard my heart! Transform me, so I always have a generous heart like Yours! I never want my giving to be “reluctant or under compulsion” for I know, “You love a cheerful giver!” (II Corinthians 9:7)