Transformation That Leads to Generosity
Earlier this year, I heard a message that had a profound impact on the way I look at my money. Paul David Tripp was one of many speakers at the Kingdom Advisors conference earlier this year. During his message, he spoke about Ephesians 4:29:
"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need" (ESV).
What makes this verse so profound is how the verse ends. Tripp explains that we would expect the verse to end with something like, "so that he may provide for himself and his family."
But that's not how it ends. Instead, the verse concludes with, "so he may have something to share with anyone in need."
Frankly, this is something I have never thought about. The thief, who has been transformed, is to use his resources to further God's mission. This has a major impact on how we are to view our resources as followers of Christ. As I pondered on this, it led me to meditate on three thoughts on how one of the natural results of transformation is generosity.
1. Transformation leads to recovering and pursuing the image of God.
In Genesis 1, we see that man was unique in comparison to all the other creatures. Namely, God made man in his own image. In essence, this gives us status that not even God's angels have. We alone bear the image of God, or the Imago Dei.
As we know, people do not perfectly reflect God's image because of sin. That is why Jesus came. He perfectly reflected the Imago Dei, offered himself as the perfect sacrifice, and offers eternal life to all who believe. Not only do we have eternal life in Christ, but we also become new creations in him (2 Corinthians 5:17). As new creations, we seek to recover and pursue God's original design, which is a greater reflection of the Imago Dei.
The Imago Dei gives us amazing insight into human nature. For example, because God creates, we also have an innate desire to create. Similarly, just as God cares for the world, we also seek to steward the resources of the world.
If we truly believe all people bear the Imago Dei, then it also affects how we relate to others. Namely, we desire for our fellow image-bearers to come into right relationship with their Creator, which leads to my next point.
2. Pursuit and recovery of the image of God leads to joining the mission of God.
After the fall of man, God did not stand by idly. He took immediate action by covering Adam and Eve with the skins of sacrificed animals. The rest of the Bible is the unfolding of God's plan to redeem his creation. We call this the mission of God, or Missio Dei.
God has always invited his people to participate in the Missio Dei. Some wrongly assume that God only cares for the people of Israel throughout the Old Testament. On the contrary, there are multiple references to caring for foreigners (Exodus 23:9), being a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:1-3), and God's desire for praise from all peoples (Psalm 67).
Jesus continues to make known God's love for all peoples. Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus commands his disciples to go and make disciples within their city, their region, and the whole world (Acts 1:8). As people who have been transformed by the grace of God, we must consider how we are to use our resources to participate in the Mission Dei.
3. Joining the mission of God leads to generosity.
The book of Acts is a personal favorite of mine. Throughout the book, we see numerous examples of self-sacrifice for the sake of the advancement of God's kingdom. This includes those who go as well as those who give generously to both the local church and to missionaries.
I acknowledge that not everyone will go overseas to become a missionary. However, that does not absolve us from participating in the Missio Dei. For those of us who stay, we must ask ourselves what we are to do with the resources entrusted to us by God.
Do we truly believe God deserves the glory from our fellow image-bearers all over the world? Do we truly believe they will spend eternity in hell, separated from their Creator, if they don't repent and believe in Jesus Christ? If so, we must do what is necessary to ensure our neighbors, our community, and our world has the opportunity to hear about what Jesus has done for them. This includes going to them, supporting our local church, and generously giving to those who go in our stead.
Will you be generous?
Generosity is a gift from God. It provides us with a way to participate in God's mission, even if we cannot go ourselves. And I get it, giving is hard. It's difficult to relinquish control of the resources we've earned. However, Scripture makes it clear that these resources are not our own. They belong to our King. Therefore, we must ask ourselves what our King wants us to do with them.
Will you use your home to host your neighbors? Will you give abundantly to your church? Will you give to a missionary so they can proclaim the gospel to the unreached?
There are numerous ways to be generous. But remember, these resources are ultimately God's. Thus, my challenge to you is this: consider how God wants you to use his resources for the advancement of his kingdom.
About the author: Jon Matlock serves as a financial planner at American Financial Planning, Inc. in Roanoke, Virginia. He is a CFP® candidate, a professional member of Kingdom Advisors, and a graduate of Southeastern Seminary. Before pursuing financial planning, Jon served overseas with the International Mission Board and also worked in their Church Success Center. In his free time, Jon enjoys serving his church, hiking in the beautiful Roanoke Valley, and spending time with his wife and son.