I’m not saying it was His idea that you have all the stuff you have. Your vintage Star Wars action figure collection might not be an integral part of His will for you, for example. My family’s iPod-or-iPhone-per-human ratio likely doesn’t fill His heart with pride either (it’s 7-4, I have to confess).
God is respectful of our choices, but He doesn’t have to be.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” – Job 1:21
The (probably obvious) point I’m trying to make is that whatever we have, He either gave us directly, or He’s chosen not to take away.
When I fully digest this truth, I find the generosity of God to be staggering.
I look at my family’s health, our wealth, our church, our school, our jobs, the ministries to which we’ve been called, the gifts we’ve been given to execute those ministries and our wealth, and I’m gabberflasted at it all.
Yes, I know I mentioned ‘wealth’ twice in that list, because I’m twice as flummoxed about that element as the others.
The material possessions at our disposal are enormous. Not by Bill Gates standards, of course – but compared to most people. Experts’ best guesses suggest 9% of the world’s population owns a car. I have one, so without looking at anything else I have, I’m richer than 91% of the planet. (Perhaps an oversimplification, but the overall picture is uncomfortably accurate.)
Why did I win the lottery to be born into a middle-class family in a rich country? Why was I given perfect health, supportive parents, significant talents and the opportunities to develop them, when so very many of God’s children (whom He loves just as much as me) were not? Why was I blessed with a thoughtful, kind, hilarious, brilliant wife who’s as committed to me as I am to her? Why were we given such fantastic, healthy, brilliant, compassionate children?
God is generous, but why is He so generous to me?
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” – Genesis 12:2
That verse doesn’t fully address the blatant inequity of the distribution of wealth and resources in the world, of course (I suspect that the sin of man figures prominently into the equation, rather than the will of God). But from a practical perspective, there’s my answer – whether I like it or not.
I’m blessed so I can bless others.
Am I doing that? Sure. I’m awesome at blessing others – compared to some people who have way more than I have. But if I look at the generosity of some other people – including many who have fewer resources than I have – and I see a very different picture.
So how generous is generous enough? At what point are we ‘off the hook’?
I sometimes think of it in those terms, I confess. But I don’t think that approach is particularly helpful. It seems to me that generosity is what we’re called to, and generosity and obligation are mutually exclusive.
If we’re serving others out of mere obligation, it’s definitely better than not serving others – but we can’t call it generosity. Why?
Because generosity is fun!
It is enjoyable to share what we have. It’s a real blessing to think of a way to bless people’s socks off, and then to do it.
God doesn’t give good gifts because He thinks it’s His duty, He does it because He enjoys it. When I remember that, and do my best to go and do likewise, I feel like the receiver even when I’m the giver.
Peace be with you.