Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)
The more consistently I read the Bible, the more aware I am of the sharp contrast between God’s way and the world’s way. Conversely, the more removed I am from Scripture, the more I forget, and the more prone I am to wander and drift. To keep from falling prey to our culture’s views of success, money, sexuality and more, we need consistent reminders and examples of the radical life God calls us to live. We need the influence of Christ and of surrendered people of faith—and we need it every day.
The world’s way vs. God’s way
By worldly standards, our body is ours, our money is ours, and generosity looks more like leaving a waiter a 20 percent tip than housing an orphaned teen or living on a fraction of our take home pay and giving the rest away. But Scripture informs us that “we are not our own; we were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:19-20). God purchased our freedom with His life, and He is worthy to be worshipped with all that we are, and with all that we have. When we take this idea literally—that we are His—it results in a drastically different way of thinking and living. A different way of giving, as well.
Earned or given? Mine or His?
“What do you have that God hasn’t given you?” (1 Cor 4:7). No matter how many times I read this verse it always packs a punch. I’ll never forget sitting on a top bunk in a mission house in El Salvador and these words jumping off the page of my Bible, completely wrecking me. If nothing I have is mine, then how could I ever justify holding anything back from Him? Shouldn’t my grip be loose on everything I “own”—and on my life and my future, as well? God answered this question with a resounding “yes” (the same way He answers it every time I ask).
In light of the reality that all we have is His, what does it mean for us to be generous?—to lavishly and unselfishly give of ourselves, and from the abundance we’ve been given by a loving and gracious God? Scripture informs us, if we dare to seek the answer. And the Spirit nudges us if we dare to ask for opportunities to respond.
Several years ago, at the peak of my success in private practice, God took me by surprise on a run one day. Rounding a corner on a trail by my house, He planted an idea in my head: to work like a doctor and to live like a nurse. That is, to base my spending around a nurse’s salary and to give the rest of my income away. As radical as the thought may have been, there was peace in my soul surrounding it, and a quiet confidence that only God can give. Probably the same kind of peace that Noah felt when he was building the ark, or Joshua when he was marching around Jericho—both responding to seemingly crazy requests, as well.
When we are grounded more firmly in the Word than we are in the world, God moves us to counter-cultural ways of living and giving. Instead of living in fear, we live by faith. Instead of living for ourselves, we live generously for Him. And in doing so, we begin to look more like the heroes of the Bible than heroes of the world today.
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