by Bryan Ho
During one evening some time ago, after buying food from one of the more popular hawkers in town, I hurried to get into the car for it was raining quite heavily, and it was getting dark. As I was preparing to drive away, there was a knock on my window; a young girl was asking for some money to buy food. She and her siblings have not eaten anything for the day and needed some money to buy food. Quite readily, I opened my wallet, pulled out what I thought was a ten ringgit note and handed it to the young girl.
During the drive home, I thought about that poor young girl. Maybe it was because she seemed just a little older than my 4-year-old daughter. It is pitiful that she had to stand in the rain while I was sheltered in the comfort of my car. Moreover, she has been hungry for the day and here I was surrounded by the aroma of the hot and mouthwatering food I had just bought.
When I checked my wallet later, I realized that I might have accidentally pulled out a twenty ringgit or even fifty ringgit note instead. I knew I only had one ten ringgit note in my wallet that day, and it was still there. Whatever the amount might be, I hope that it has helped to fill the stomach of the girl and her siblings, at least for a day.
We are the children of a generous God. We are created in His image, therefore we also ought to be generous. Think about creation and all its beauty that this world is endowed with. Think about the depths He went to in order to redeem us and the price that was required. Think about His covenant and promises and offer of fellowship.
Several questions for us to ponder on: Do we have a generous heart? Do we rejoice in giving?
Consider what the wise man has to say in Proverbs 23: 6-8 “Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies; For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, And waste your pleasant words.”
Consider also Proverbs 3: 27-28 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbour, ‘Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,’ When you have it with you.”
If I recognize that I do not have a generous heart, how can I change? If we are not acting generously, let’s begin now. Remind ourselves regularly that everything we have is God’s and what we give away will have eternal significance.
Conventional wisdom tells us that we tend to lose if we give. However godly wisdom tells us otherwise. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell” (Proverbs 11: 24-26).
“He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses” (Proverbs 28: 27).
In the account found in Luke 12:13-21, we read about a man who interrupted Jesus by asking our Savior to intercede in his inheritance matter with his brother, and to rule in his favour.
“Jesus answered, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? …’Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Luke 12:14-15). They were putting their trust in riches rather than God. Then Jesus used this conflict between the two brothers to teach His followers a valuable lesson using a parable.
The parable was about a successful businessman. He was a farmer whose fields were so productive that he had way more than usual. He had barns to store his crops in but they weren’t big enough, so he decided to tear them down. His crops were so plentiful that not only did he make his barns larger – he began to think about his future. He said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Now what’s wrong with that? How many of us wouldn’t like to have enough money so we can retire and enjoy life?
But Jesus condemned the wealthy man, NOT because he was wealthy (there are many wealthy people in the scriptures), but because he wasn’t rich towards God.
“God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:20-21).
You see, Jesus didn’t condemn people for being wealthy per se. He condemned them for being greedy. “Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:22, 25-26).
Jesus said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin. Yet I say you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28).
And then He said “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:31-32).
Let us be generous just as our Heavenly Father is generous.