When is the last time you recall giving generously or sacrificing your time, talent and treasure for someone else without expecting anything in return? How did you feel? How did the other person respond? Patrick Johnson writes, “Genuine Christianity compels us to become a generous person because the central act of our faith is an act of thankfulness.” The Apostle Paul explained it best in 2 Corinthians 8:8-9, “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 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.” There are some key generous aspects of these verses. First, Paul establishes grace as the core of God’s generous love and is not out of coercion, but a voluntary act of sacrifice and redemption. Second, he encourages us to model God’s grace that He has given to us freely. Finally, it is our goal as believers to live out His generosity, which is the very heart of God, to those around us.
Have you ever lost something super valuable to you? I heard about one story of a lost wedding ring in a lake, later found by a couple in shallow water. One day, while asking a local jeweler what they should do with the ring after four months of searching for the owner, he asked, “Where did you find the ring?” Sure enough, a couple had just inquired if anyone had found a lost wedding ring in the same lake. Rings can be lost and found, just like a fruitless wandering life can be lost and found in Christ.
After trusting in Christ, Jesus gives us a picture of what our new life should resemble in Luke 9:23. First, self-denial – we must seek after the things of God, not our selfish gain. Second, self-sacrifice – the cross is a place of death; there is no making it out alive. The cross symbolizes in our life all that must die in order to become a disciple of Christ. Jesus is not just an add-on to our life. His journey becomes our journey. Finally, we must be self-motivated. We must desire to follow Jesus’ example; it cannot be a casual relationship. Following Jesus means that we consume our life with His directives, and He will make our path straight. Ask God to help you live the sacrificial life!