There’s no such thing as a Christian Scrooge.” -Kent Hughes
The last of our shapes is the arrow, and it reminds us to pay it forward. At Cross-Work Church we want to be generous with our time, talent, and treasure because God was far more generous with us. Let’s dive into a story to learn what I mean.
In all four gospels there is a woman that anoints Jesus with perfume, and in most of the stories someone will say, “we could have sold that for 300 denarii.” One denarius was roughly a day’s wages, so 300 denarii was a whole year worth of money. Let’s put that into perspective a little bit.
In 2017, the median household income was $60,336. I know that’s not a single person’s wages so let’s bring it down a bit. $35,000 sounds like a pretty realistic number for one person to make in a year. Clive Christian No. 1 Imperial Majesty Perfume sells for $7,386.28 per ounce, so for a year’s wages I can buy a little less than five ounces. For anyone wondering right now, no, I’m not a perfume connoisseur, I just looked this up on the internet, but are you starting to see what that perfume she used would have been worth during that time?
The generosity from this woman had to flow from realizing how much she had really been forgiven of. Jesus reminds the Pharisees of this in Luke 7:47, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 8:8-9, “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Generosity is a mark of a heart that has been changed by God.
If that doesn’t convince you let’s take another example from the gospels, or I guess two examples, the rich young ruler and Zacchaeus. The rich young ruler, we don’t know his name, but he describes himself as a pretty good person. He seems to do all the right things, and he probably even gives a tithe, but when Jesus told him sell all his things and give them to the poor, he left sad because he loved his stuff more than God. However, Zacchaeus, on the other hand, when he had an encounter with Jesus, he told Jesus he was giving half of his things to the poor and anyone he cheated out of money, he would pay back four times the amount. Zacchaeus, unlike the rich young ruler, was given a new heart. He no longer cared for the things of this world, but he would rather love God and love people.
I have to confess, I don’t mean to neglect talking about time or talent. At Cross-Work, we want to be generous with those too. We don’t want to bury the good gifts God has given us, and we want to be good stewards of the time we have to make God’s name known. However, like the rich young ruler, I have a tendency to just say look at all the things I’m doing over here, so I can keep my idol, money, for myself. Being generous isn’t about checking something off a list to please God because I’ll never be able to do enough things to please him, that’s what Jesus did when he came to Earth and lived a perfect life. Being generous means, I’ve realized the things on this Earth are worthless in comparison to Christ, and I want to give and do everything I can to point people to Him because, as I learned, it’s only in him that they will find eternal life.
-Your second favorite church planter