Christian Generosity and Bearing the Family Likeness of the Household of God

One of the greatest ways in which we reflect the glory of God is in Christian generosity.  When we are generous like our Father in heaven has been generous, the reward we ought to be looking for is not “when you give you will receive more,” although this is often true.  No, the reward is intrinsic to generosity itself: you will bear the Royal Family likeness of the heavenly Kingdom that is not of this world but has been inaugurated here.  Bearing the family likeness of the heavenly King is a big deal.  Being stewards of our image-bearing of God is one of the first mentioned rights and responsibilities in the whole of Scripture.  When we give with sincere and generous hearts, we remind the Father of the Son, who offered Himself as a way to the Father by giving us the Spirit—with His gifts and fruit—and giving us the keys to the Kingdom.  All we have we have been given by the Father through the Son by the Spirit.  God gives generously to us precisely so that we can bear the family likeness of the Godhead, who, within the members of the Trinity itself, relate effortlessly in self-denying/self-offering oneness.  Rather than being self-seeking and seeking to fulfill our own cravings of body and soul, aka the self, we are to deny self and then offer self as a gift to others, just as the author and perfecter of our faith has done.

Unfortunately, in our culture, we have been told the opposite.  We have been fed the lie that we are to give from our leftovers to God and to others once our own cup is full.  We have been told that what life is really about is getting as much as we can in this lifetime as a monument to our own blessedness, as if God loved us more than others because we have been so blessed.  It is not so.  With great blessings comes a double-edged sword: we are blessed to be a blessing, and woe is us if we do not conform to His image.  It blesses the heart of God when we conform to the image of His generous person.  He sees us reflecting the image of His Son as our primary responsibility, especially in Christian generosity.  Others see a generous Christian as a witness to our Gospel of grace, and they see a stingy hoarding Christian as a mixed message, someone who says they believe in one thing but behave very differently.  The standard is not 10% to God and 90% to blow on ourselves.  The standard is a life that reflects that all that we have is from God, and as our Lord, all that we have at His disposal for His work when it is in the stewardship of His people.

Tithing is a great discipline when it is practiced differently than many of us do: by giving a representative sample from our firstfruits, we train ourselves that all of the rest of what we have is from the Lord, that He—not we—is the provider, and creating greater margins in our generosity in time, talent, and treasure is precisely the work of a maturing and mature disciple.  We pray that we all would reflect this kind of generosity in giving to family, friends, neighbors, and community.  Reflecting the glory of God in giving has its own intrinsic value: you will be called the sons and daughters of God.

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