For me, Mark 12:44 has always reflected the call of the bible to give everything to God. It is a call I am familiar with, a call that I long to follow. But it has always been a far-away goal, an idea, I suppose. It is an example that I have, so far, failed to be. And excuses after excuses arise in my mind to try and explain why. Because when it came down to the practical stuff, to money, possessions and routines, how could I really give it all to God?
Last Saturday we enjoyed a day together as church family at our second ever Globe Get Away. The day was centred on the importance, implications and joy of loving God with our money. As we opened our bibles together, and as Jonty unfolded the book of James, I was left both surprised and challenged by the way in which the bible calls us to use our money.
Whilst much of the Western world is focussed on success, on achievements, on storing up our money, on luxuries and on dreams, the bible calls Christians to be different.
Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
Instead of hoarding up treasures for ourselves, James is challenging us to, instead, be generous and righteous with our money. Rich or poor, we called to store up our treasures in heaven, and not in this world. Rich or poor, we are to persevere in the trial that money brings, the trial of not allowing money to become an idol, and instead using it for the glory and praise of God.
But let’s make this clear, these commands are not hollow. God does not call us into a life of righteousness and generosity without reason. It is from God himself that we learn generosity. One sentence that really stood out to me during the talks that Jonty gave throughout the day was this:
You see, God doesn’t have to be generous to us. And yet he is!
A simple and yet beautiful truth, something that again and again I must remember. God calls us to use our money generously and righteously, calls us to be caring towards the poor and the needy, because caring for the poor and the needy is what he has always done. His heart is a heart of love. He sees those in need and he is moved. When Jesus looked out upon the crowds that surrounded him he had compassion, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
We bear God’s image. We are representatives of Christ, his people, his church. We have received abundant mercy and we know the blessings of God’s amazing grace.
As our day together drew to a close, I looked at my reluctance to give, my desire for money and my longing for earthly possessions and I was greatly challenged.
After all that God has given me, how could I not respond with a desire and longing to show the same grace, to be generous and righteous as God has revealed himself so to us?
My heart is hard. But God changes hearts. At the end of the day we prayed together, that God would give each of us a generous and righteous heart.