Christians and Generosity

There are certain places here in Greenville where I’m highly likely to run into scores of Christian friends: consignment sales, used book sales, Dress-Like-A-Cow-And-Get-Free-Chick-Fil-A Day, etc. Just say the word “sale,” or, especially, “free” and I and my fellow Greenville Christians will be there, ready to snatch up the good deal. There’s a grocery store in town that holds a sidewalk sale once a month–six bucks a box. From what I understand, folks have to stand behind a line until a whistle is blown, and then it’s every man for himself–pushing and grabbing to fill your box with the best stuff. Though I haven’t been there, I can almost guarantee it’s a hot-spot for my Christian friends. We certainly do love a good deal. There is virtue to all of this bargain-hunting. Following the example of the Proverbs 31 Woman, we’re trying to provide wisely for our families. We’re trying to make our little paychecks turn into pretty clothes, reliable cars and yummy meals for the whole family.

But if you’ll look a little more closely at the Proverbs 31 Woman, you’ll not only see frugality and resourcefulness, but you’ll also see generosity:

Proverbs 31:20 “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Frugality is good and virtuous, but if I were to look up all the verses on generosity/ giving to those in need and compare them with the verses that extol being economical, I think the scales would be tipped in the direction of giving. Penny-pinching is good; generosity is even better. And when I picture what we Greenville Christians must look like to other people, I see a lot of grabbing for the best food- holding my good place in line- I’m lookin’ out for me and mine sort of images rather than the I’d like to give you mine- I’m willing to be last- Who can I help sort of images.

There’s a story that’s been affecting me for days. I read the story on CNN, watched a few associated videos, and bawled my eyes out. Though God’s name is not mentioned as the motivator for this giving, I think we can see His character manifested through the generosity of this woman.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/10/28/foreclosed.home/index.html#cnnSTCText

If you haven’t run across it yet, it’s worth the read and the time to watch a video clip or two. May God help me to be more generous for His glory!

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Published in: on November 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm  Comments (3)  

When I’ve Been Falsely Accused- Part 2

As I looked for wisdom from God’s Word, I found Psalm 7 to be a great comfort and source of guidance. (Thanks, Bob Bixby, for your series on “The Song of the Slandered Saint.”)

Psalm 7

1 O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
2
Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
3
O LORD my God, If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;
4
If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
5
Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.
6
Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
7
So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.
8
The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
9
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
10
My defense is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.
11
God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
12
If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
13
He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
14
Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
15
He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.
16
His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
17
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

I knew I needed to search my heart and ask God if my accuser was right about me. Sometimes others can see our faults more clearly than we can see them ourselves. Though my faults were exaggerated by my accuser, I knew there were elements of truth in his/her claims. I’ve prayed that the Lord would use the rebuke for good in my heart (verses 3-5 and Psalm 139:23-24).

After much soul-searching and advice-gathering, I was still convinced that the accuser was wrong on many accounts and had falsely accused me as a way of pridefully protecting himself/ herself. But my accuser seemed just as convinced that I was wrong and that he/she was right. It was hard for me to leave that unresolved, but I found great comfort in verses 8-10. God will settle the accounts in His timing; He is a just God, and I have no better defender than Him. As long as my conscience is clear before Him, I have nothing to stew about.

Still, though, I struggled with bitterness in my heart, and I knew my attitude wasn’t quite right. I found further help from Luke’s gospel:

Luke 6:27-28, 32-33, 35 “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. … For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. …But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”

It’s easy to love those who love me and treat me well. It’s really radical to love those who hurt me. But God calls us to that radical kind of love–the kind of love He has for us. And I knew that in order to get over the hump of bitter feelings, I’d need to reach out and purposely do something loving for the person who had hurt me.

Romans 5:8 “But God (showed) his love toward us, in that, while we were (his enemies), Christ died for us.”

I’ll take one more post with this topic next week. I hope this series will be an encouragement and a help for any of you who are struggling with forgiveness/ bitterness as a result of a false accusation.

Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 3:26 am  Comments (2)  

When I’ve Been Falsely Accused- Part 1

This summer I faced an accusation that kept me reeling for weeks. I couldn’t tell which way was up and needed godly advisers to help me put my feet back on solid ground. Through the trial, I’ve found comfort and guidance from the Word.

First of all, a fog-clearing quote from Charles Spurgeon:

“He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.”

As I formulate my attitude those who have hurt me, I have to remember how much God has forgiven me for far greater, in light of His holiness. In gratitude for the great debt I have been forgiven through Christ, I find the strength to forgive others.

Col. 3:12-13 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Eph 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Here’s a quote from a sermon delivered by John MacArthur:

“Nothing is more godlike than forgiving someone. And never are you more like God than when you forgive. If it is your heart’s prayer to be like Christ, to be as God’s children, beloved children who manifest His character, then you must necessarily be characterized by forgiveness.”

Tomorrow I’ll share a Psalm that has brought me particular comfort and guidance through my situation.

Published in: on September 26, 2008 at 4:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Humbling….

“He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.”

-Charles Spurgeon

(I found this quote in Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney–a great read!)

Published in: on August 8, 2008 at 9:56 am  Comments (1)