God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we saw how the disciples of Jesus responded to persecution, and how different their response was, compared to how we often respond to the problems we encounter today. (If you’re interested, you can read that post here: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and…” What the disciples prayed for (Acts 4:23-31)) Today we’ll explore the generosity of those same Jesus followers, and we’ll look at how that applies to you and to me.
An Issue of Paramount Importance
Kathy and I were arguing yesterday. It was intense. The emotional altercation started in the morning and went on for the better part of the day. We were fighting about an issue of paramount importance. We were fighting about — bicycle pedals. At the end of the day, that night, before we went to sleep, my beautiful wonderful Christ loving wife prayed about the issue. But more on that later.
The Generosity of the Disciples of Jesus
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.Acts 4:32-33
The disciples of Jesus, the original disciples and all the many more recent disciples, they were of one spirit. They were of one heart, one soul. They were sharing Jesus with everyone around them, and, they were also displaying radical generosity toward each other. Those with assets were selling their assets and giving their resources to the group so their brothers and sisters in need were taken care of.
Generosity is a huge theme throughout the Bible. Our enthusiasm for using our resources to help those in need is a big part of following Jesus. It’s a part of the foundation of love that we see in the life of our Lord and also in the lives of his disciples. I need to be generous toward the people around me like the Jesus followers in our text, and I would encourage you to do the same.
But the way the believers treated each other speaks of another form of generosity found here that’s also important. This morning during my time in God’s word I read this passage.
Children of Wrath
All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved . . .Ephesians 2:3-5
I was reminded of the first decades of my adult life when I was living as a “child of wrath.” A part of my personality is to possess a strong vision for something and then set out to accomplish that vision, to bring it to fruition. That’s not a terrible personality trait in and of itself, but for so many years my response to any disruption of that vision resulted in an uncharitable, emotional, and often wrathful response. Sometimes I would become angry or upset, but even if I managed to contain myself. the people around me could tell I was simmering under the surface.
What struck me this morning as I was reading from Ephesians 2 is how generous people were toward me when I behaved like that. My fellow firefighters, my sons, my friends, my wife, my dad, even my acquaintances, they all extended grace toward me when I reacted badly to my disrupted expectations. They all extended radical generosity toward me when I didn’t respond well to my vision being disrupted.
The Disrupted World We Live In
At the end of the day, before we went to sleep Kathy prayed for us. She confessed to our Lord that we had bad attitudes that day. And she shared with our Father about how, because of the pandemic, the lives of everyone in the whole world have been disrupted, and worldwide so many of us are struggling with our attitudes. Then she asked our Lord to help us with our attitudes, to help us to do better.
That was such a good prayer. We who follow Jesus, we need to be generous with each other, and we need to be generous with every person God puts in front of us.
Mother Teresa and the Dying Hindu Man
Yesterday I heard a priest tell a story about Mother Teresa. One day she came upon a Hindu man who lay dying in the street. As she often did with people she found on the street, she took him in and cared for him during the last days of his life. As he lay there on his bed, dying, she said to him over and over, “You’re going to meet Jesus. You’re going to meet Jesus . . .”
After listening to Mother Teresa repeating this for awhile, this Hindu man looked up at Mother Teresa’s face and said, “This Jesus,
“is he like you?”
I think that’s what we have to ask ourselves as Jesus followers. The world has been disrupted, lives have been disrupted, and because of that, everywhere we go we find people on edge. In our own homes, driving in traffic, in the local restaurant, when we’re out with family or friends, people are easily offended and upset and even outraged. People are struggling with their attitudes. But for a Jesus follower, this is the time to ask ourselves, “Is Jesus like me?” Are people looking at me and looking at you and wondering if Jesus might be like us, in the same way that Hindu man looked and asked of Mother Teresa?
Radically Generous Jesus
And this is also a time to remember how radically generous Jesus was toward us.
Jesus extended his grace to me, a sinner. Jesus extended radical generosity toward you: a sinner. Jesus was generous toward us when we were “children of wrath.” He extended undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor toward us. For that reason alone we need to extend grace to the people around us. I must not withhold my grace and mercy toward someone just because they sin differently than I do. You must not withhold your grace and mercy toward someone just because they sin differently than you do. (see Matthew 18:21-35)
This is a time for the Jesus follower to be generous with people.
This is a time to be different.
This is a time to stand out.
This is a time to be like Jesus.
“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”
–William J. Toms
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com
Kurt Bennett’s book is now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.