Today’s post is from my new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). Last Saturday we posted Chapter 13: Love Like Jesus–Love The Lost Cause. Love Like Jesus is due to be published later this year.
Love Like Jesus: Give Like Jesus
. . . he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken . . . And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus gave so generously that the recipients were astonished. And he gave in a way that engendered a certain response: In our passage for this chapter, Peter responds by recognizing the glory of Jesus and his own sinful nature. And they all respond by leaving everything, and following Jesus.
How To Love Like Jesus
Jesus gave in a way that attracted people to Jesus. But do you suppose I give of myself that way? When I give materially, or when I give my time, or when I give my energy, do I do it in a way that encourages people to glorify God and follow Jesus? Way too often the answer is no.
Too frequently I give in a way that I hope will encourage people to follow me.
Most of us give out of a desire to attract people to ourselves. We say to ourselves: “If I help him move, he’ll think I’m a good guy.” Or, “If I pick up the check, he’ll think I’m generous.” Or, “If I make a great dessert, they’ll think I’m a great cook.” It’s human nature to think this way.
But everything you and I have is God’s anyway. Nothing is your own. Your money, your time, your energy, your talents and abilities, your life: they’re all His. You and I are just managing what we’ve received from Him. It only makes sense then that you and I should manage His gifts in a way that draws people closer to God and to His Son.
This conflict between giving to attract followers to ourselves versus giving to attract followers to Jesus is relevant to anyone on social media today. And also to anyone who blogs or tweets or speaks or writes for God’s kingdom. When we look at our number of friends or followers or subscribers or page views, are we looking out of an interest in drawing people closer to Christ? If you are, that’s a good thing. Jesus advocated numbering the 100 so the shepherd knew he was missing the 1. Tracking numbers out of concern for gathering sheep to Christ’s sheepfold is good. But we’re in error when we track numbers out of a desire to see how our followers have grown. You could say it’s Matthew 18:12 vs. 2 Samuel 24.
Looking at his numbers to gratify himself was what David did when he numbered the men in his army. But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (2 Samuel 24)
A positive example is Jeremiah the weeping prophet. He preached for forty-two years and not one person responded. But while I’m sure he would have been encouraged to see people respond, he didn’t give of himself that way for people. He gave of himself that way for God. Was it worth it? In the gospels, among the prophets, Jesus quotes Jeremiah more than any other.
Anytime you give anything, it’s important for you to ask yourself the question, “Am I doing this so people will think well of me, am I doing this so people will follow me? Or am I doing it so people will follow Jesus Christ?”
I hear people say they want to be inspired by God’s Holy Spirit when they create. Whatever it is, their blog post, or their music, or their movie, or their book, or their culinary creation they desire inspiration. I know I certainly want that. If you’re like me and want the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, it’s important to remember the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ. (see John 16:13-14)
So as much as possible, when you show love by giving, love as Jesus loved by giving as Jesus gave. Give in a way that glorifies God and draws people closer to Christ.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said,
He will not speak on his own . . . he will glorify me . . .
Image of gift giver via asenat29 – Creative Commons