Posts tagged ‘Generosity’

Celebrating Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Each year, in keeping with a personal tradition, I like to read one of the Thanksgiving Proclamations issued by one of our presidents. This year, I turned my attention to the Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1961, issued by President John F. Kennedy:

We have, as in the past, ample reason to be thankful for the abundance of our blessings. We are grateful for the blessings of faith and health and strength and for the imperishable spiritual gifts of love and hope. We give thanks, too, for our freedom as a nation; for the strength of our arms and the faith of our friends; for the beliefs and confidence we share; for our determination to stand firmly for what we believe to be right and to resist mightily what we believe to be base; and for the heritage of liberty bequeathed by our ancestors which we are privileged to preserve for our children and our children’s children.

It is right that we should be grateful for the plenty amidst which we live; the productivity of our farms, the output of our factories, the skill of our artisans, and the ingenuity of our investors. But in the midst of our thanksgiving, let us not be unmindful of the plight of those in many parts of the world to whom hunger is no stranger and the plight of those millions more who live without the blessings of liberty and freedom.

Like many presidents before him, President Kennedy is not short on his list of things for which he and the nation can be thankful. But what I appreciate especially about President Kennedy’s proclamation is that while he calls on the nation to be thankful, he also calls on the nation to be mindful of those for whom blessings may feel as though they’re in short supply. While many Americans gather around lavish feasts, others live with hunger and under oppression.  And these problems are not just international problems. They are domestic as well. A new study published by Dig Deep and the U.S. Water Alliance found that some two million people in the U.S. lack water and basic indoor plumbing. There are blessings that flow. But there is also need that is real.

President Kennedy concludes his Thanksgiving Proclamation with this admonition:

Let us observe this day with reverence and with prayer that will rekindle in us the will and show us the way not only to preserve our blessings, but also to extend them to the four corners of the earth.

The president wanted the nation to give thanks. But he also wanted the nation to give away some of the blessings it had received. He wanted the nation to embrace the “giving” in “Thanksgiving.” Indeed, giving is how we can demonstrate our thankfulness to God. In the words of the preacher of Hebrews:

Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16)

I pray that this Thanksgiving, you found many reasons to be thankful. I also pray that this holidays season, you’ll find many ways to be giving. These two things go together. For when you are thankful and giving, you provide others with the opportunity to be thankful and giving, too.

And our world could use more of both.

December 2, 2019 at 5:15 am 1 comment

ABC Extra – Unbaptized Money

Though I’m almost sure it’s apocryphal, Martin Luther is credited with saying, “There are three conversions necessary – the conversion of the heart, of the mind, and of the purse.”  Regardless of whether or not Luther actually spoke these words, this quote can serve to remind us of the importance our Lord places on faithful stewardship.  What we do with money matters.

In his book The Money Map, Howard Dayton writes, “When the Crusades were fought during the twelfth century, the Crusaders purchased the services of mercenaries to fight for them. Because it was a religious war, the Crusaders insisted that the mercenaries be baptized before fighting. As they were being baptized, the soldiers would take their swords and hold them up out of the water to symbolize that Jesus Christ was not in control of their swords, that they retained the freedom to use their weapons in any way they wished.”  Like Crusaders wielding swords in whatever unbaptized way they saw fit, many people wish to use money in whatever unsanctified way they see expedient.  But God wants our money to be “baptized,” so to speak, in that He wants us to steward our money faithfully and well.  And first and foremost, stewarding our money faithfully and well means being generous with others even s God has been generous to us.

In our text from this past weekend, Solomon writes, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).  God wants us to be generous and refreshing toward others.  Notably, the Hebrew verb for “refreshes” in this verse is rawah, meaning, “to water.”  In Hebrew, this word is in the Hiphil mood, which is an intensive form of the Hebrew verb.  Thus, when Solomon encourages us to “refresh others,” he encourages us to do so intensively.  That is, we are to be as generous as we possible can be.  And as we do so, we ourselves will “be refreshed.”  This phrase “be refreshed” is in the Hophal voice, another intensive Hebrew verbal form.  Thus, as we intensively refresh others through our generosity, God will intensively refresh us through His generosity.

Money that is not baptized by the gospel only causes harm and grief.  Judas, when he sells his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, despairs and commits suicide (Matthew 27:1-5).  Hezekiah, when he shows off his temple treasury to envoys from Babylon, seals the demise of his nation (Isaiah 39).  And Ananias and Sapphira, when they duplicitously hold back some money from the sale of a field, claiming that they had given all the proceeds to the Church, are struck down by God (Acts 5:1-11).  Money used apart from the purposes of God ends in disaster.  Conversely, money that is “baptized” by the gospel can be used to illustrate the gospel itself!  The apostle Paul writes, “You were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23).  What is this price?  It is the price of Christ’s blood.  The monetary picture of a price is used to describe our redemption.  Indeed, the very word “redeemed” is monetary, for it describes how Christ purchased us “from the empty way of life” (1 Peter 1:18), that is, from the empty ways of sin, death, and the devil.

Do you allow the money with which you have been entrusted to be used at God’s pleasure and for His purposes?  Or, are your finances an area in which you remain functionally “unconverted,” holding your pocketbook out of the water while the rest of you is baptized into Christ, too afraid to heed Christ’s invitation to steward your finances in a way that is commiserate with His Kingdom values?  True financial joy and freedom is found only when your money is brought under the authority of Christ.  Jesus has been generous enough to give you all that you have.  Do you trust Him to be wise enough to use the money you have for your good and His glory?

Want to learn more? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!

July 18, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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