generosity repentance

When We Replace Rules with Repentance and Generosity

Live like you mean it.

How many of us who claim to be Christians actually live according to the Bible’s instructions? Probably not as many of us as we think.

Consider the teaching of John the Baptist. He emerged in first-century Israel at a time when religion, not faith, exerted immense control over the lives of the people. They received forgiveness of sin through an animal sacrifice. There was a specific order and a clear plan to their religion. Rules reigned.

John emerged from the desert with an altogether different description of faith-life. Sacrifice was not enough, he told them. The life we were born to live begins with a repentant heart, not a list of rules.

A changed heart is not optional. 

It was much easier to merely give up an animal. Forgiveness? Reconciliation? Repentance? Much harder, but essential for getting right with God.

It wasn’t a familiar idea, and his listeners asked John what they should do. What does this “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance” look like?

John’s answer was startling. “If you have two tunics, give one to the man who has none…” 

An extra tunic was a precious thing in the first century. We’re accustomed to closets full of clothes. They were not. John didn’t ask them to give away unused leftovers. He asked them to give something that mattered.

Why give away an extra tunic?

Generosity is a theme throughout Scripture. We are to be as open-handed with others as God is with us.

To receive from God we must have open hands and an open heart. When we cling so tightly to the stuff of this world, it’s not only harder to cling to our Lord, it’s harder to receive all He has for us.

Extravagant giving requires that we look past our own life and recognize the needs around us.  It requires us to risk being uncomfortable as a result of our giving.

Maybe more important, extravagant giving requires us to recognize Who is in charge and who is not. We are not the source of everything we have. 

No matter how hard we work nor how much money we make, God is ultimately the One who provides. It’s all His, and when we share what He has given to us, we acknowledge His provision in a tangible way. We take our eyes off ourselves to focus them on others and on the Giver of all good gifts.

John wanted his listeners to live their lives in a way that matched up with the new-found repentance they claimed to have. Live like you mean it. John gave good advice 2000 years ago. It’s still good advice for us today.

How many tunics are you holding? 

Today, live like you believe the faith you claim. Let go and give.

Live like you mean it.

And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:11 NASB)

What I’m reading:

(NOTE: This section contains an affiliate link, which means I may make a few cents if you use the link to make a purchase. It doesn’t affect your price in any way.)

I’m re-reading The Autobiography of George MullerIt’s one of the most life-changing books I’ve ever read. Other than the Bible, this book was the most instrumental in developing my prayer life. In the 1800’s Muller fed and housed more than 10,000 orphans. How? He sacrificed, prayed and believed. In response, God provided in one miraculous way after another. The faith of this one man changed a nation (or a large part of it).  The stories of God’s providence alone are worth the read. (I’m reading in paperback but it’s available in other formats.)

Here’s a quote: “The Lord not only gives as much as is absolutely necessary for His work, but He gives abundantly.” p. 198

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