In 1 Chronicles 19, we read about David, the King of ancient Israel. He was the richest and most powerful person in all of Israel. He easily could have been filled with pride over the gernerous gift that he gave towards building the temple. But he wasn’t. Instead he wonders,
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.” (1 Chronicles 29:14-15)
It has been said that there are really only two religions in the world. In one religion, we are saved by what we do. In the other religion, we are saved by what God does.
The religion we follow impacts how we think of ourselves. In the first religion, we either think of ourselves more highly than we ought (e.g. “I am a good person who is doing good things for others.”) or less than we ought (e.g. “I am dirty and despicable and I need to work hard to do more so God will notice me and perhaps accept me.”). But in the second religion, we think of ourselves in true and accurate terms (e.g. “I have nothing in my person or possessions that could move God to love me. And yet he does love me, not because of who I am, but because of who he is. Therefore I am treasured and loved by God.”)
The degree of generosity in our hearts flows from our personal identity which is rooted our religion. In the first religion, when we reflect on how we give, we might say to ourselves, “Look what I have done! I have done this great and amazing thing by giving this large amount to God!” Or we might feel guilty and say, “That level of giving is shameful! I need to work harder and give more in order to please God.” But in the second religion, when we reflect on how we give, we are amazed and perhaps say to ourselves, “How in the world did that happen? That level of generosity is beyond me!”
David’s religion was the second religion. He knew that his relationship with the God-who-saves was based on grace. God is the Great Lover who not only made the first move to woo our broken hearts. He also cleared away all barriers to us having a relationship with him. He sees us as his beautiful bride, adorned in radiant glory and perfect in every way. His love for us is infinite and unconditional. This is the only true religion.
One of the many ways that God shows his love for us is by blessing us with the abundance of his Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not a realm of scarcity, which is how the world thinks, but a realm of abundance. God’s love helps us to shed our worldview of scarcity and grow in experiencing the abundance of God’s Kingdom. When that happens, we respond by giving generously and joyously. And whenever we reflect on how we give, we wonder in amazement, “Who am I, Lord, that I should be able to give as generously as this?”
Reflection: What are some ways that you can remind yourself of God’s abundant generosity towards you?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to grow in knowing your infinitely generous love towards me. Transform and renew my mind so I think and act in accordance with the abundance of your kingdom. Help me to be selflessly amazed at what you are doing through me. Amen.
(based on 1 Chronicles 29:10-18)