Good and Faithful Servant, Part 3

Knowing God and Generosity

By Christopher Schwinger

The Series

Part 1: Evangelizing the Lost and Helping the Disadvantaged
Part 2: Forgiveness and the Balance between Contentment and Responsibility
Part 3: Knowing God and Generosity
Part 4: Courage and Humility
Part 5: Growing in Grace

There is a fine balance between working hard in God's service and trying to win His approval. Duty is a good motivation when it comes out of a devoted relationship, but becomes legalistic when it's attempting to win God's favor, as if a relationship can be earned. Paradoxically, the desperate attempt to please God becomes a barrier to fellowship. On the contrary, pleasing God becomes natural and spontaneous, instead of forced, when we begin with an understanding of God's character and then grow from there. When the path starts with our attempts, it leads to bondage, but when it starts with God's revelation of His kindness, it leads to a healthy kind of duty.

This is the third in a series on how being a good and faithful servant starts in the heart.

Fifth, seek to know the character of God better: You can do this through church fellowship, listening to sermons, studying the Bible, praying, and chronicling how He seems to have been involved in your life. The author of Hebrews urges his audience: "Let us not forsake assembling together" because of the support Christians can give each other (Hebrews 10:24-25, 12:12-16, and 13:1-7). Study of the Old Testament makes the New Testament more meaningful — "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me" (John 5:39). The psalms are the model for how to chronicle struggles and how God helps us through them. Prayer for growth in specific character qualities should also be a regular practice. These are devotional practices, designed to make life more structured and God-centered. Without these practices of personal growth, social outreaches are going to be less effective in evangelizing people.

Sixth, generosity: This requires humility, remembering that God is the source of every blessing. If you sometimes have to put self-preservation before the needs of others, at least don't put self-gratification before the needs of others. Don't neglect to give to causes besides self-gratification. The reason David felt a temple was needed was because it seemed inappropriate to him that God's house would still be in a tent structure when David had a palace of cedar, 2 Samuel 7:2 says. When we remember that every advantageous position we're in is because of God, we will want to base our priorities accordingly. James 1:17 declares: "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." This verse's theology is that God doesn't ever stop being good. In order to have faith that God will provide for us when we make others' needs a priority, we have to believe in an active God who does not change His feelings toward us on sudden whims/mood changes. The Greek concept of fate was much more pessimistic. Though the Bible's theological concept of fate doesn't resolve the tension of how much God is an active participant when bad things happen, and can only suggest that God uses hardship to make us better people, there's an important foundation Jesus gives in Matthew 5:45: "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Paulís wording of the principle in Acts 14:17 is: "He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." This is called natural law: basing principles of wisdom on observations from nature. There are a lot of things to learn about trusting God to provide for each day, and thanking Him for each blessing, which nature demonstrates. One of these is that God provides for everyone (the righteous and the unrighteous), and when we have extra, it is our duty to help those less fortunate. Paul does a great job transforming the story of manna in the wilderness into a principle for life in 2 Corinthians 8:15: "As it is written, 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.'"

Next Week: Courage and Humility

Image Credit: Angela Sevin; "sharing"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life

comments powered by Disqus
Published on 8-24-15