“’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:38).
This isn’t a blog post about Christmas. But there’s something I noticed about the Christmas story that hit me, and I’d like to share it with you.
I’ve taught a lot about generosity, and how it’s a way to become more intimate with God.
Remember the story of the widow and what the King James Bible described asher “two mites,” or small coins?
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has putin more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on’”(Luke 21:1-4).
The rich folks’ donations weren’t a sacrifice. They weren’t putting themselves in danger of hardship. Did that mean they didn’t love God? Not necessarily. But the widow’s act required faith. She loved a God she believed would take care of her, and she wanted to show her love by giving back to Him.
That’s the point of generosity. God measures generosity not by the size of the gift but by the sizeof the sacrifice.
He doesn’t need your money. He owns everything. But generosity is a way for intimacy with Him to increase. The only way that intimacy happens with God is this mechanism called faith. Not knowledge. Not “good works.” Faith.
When you believe what God says to the point of trusting Him with all you have, you will begin to truly understand who He is and how much He loves you.
Giving What They Had
So what does that have to with the Christmas story?
Think of the characters in the narrative. Each step of each person, all the way to Jesus and God the Father, is a snapshot of what the Bible teaches about the heart of God and generosity.
First, the shepherds. In biblical society they’re at the bottom of the rung. Uneducated and often stinky, shepherds had nothing to give. But when the heavens were full of angels testifying to Christ’s birth they leave work and skedaddle to Nazareth. They spread the word that the Messiah has come. All they have is time.
Who else is in the story? Joseph, of course. What did this young blue-collar worker give? His reputation. He married his pregnant fiancée, in a culture that stoned adulterers.
And Mary? What did she give? In addition to her body, Mary gave her future. Here was a teenaged girl, probably dreaming of a home and family with Joseph. From the moment the angel Gabriel announces to her that she’s chosen and will give birth to the Son of God, the life she pictured is over.
And of course, God the Father gave His beloved Son. And His beloved Son, Jesus, gave His life.
The Gain of Generosity
So what is the measure of generosity? To sacrificially worship God in faith with what you have.And what is the gain of generosity? What do you get out of being generous? To know Christ more deeply and become like Him.
Remember, God by the Holy Spirit wants to do things in you and through you beyond your wildest imagination. But if He doesn’t have your whole heart, He can’t start to guide you until you trust Him.
Will you let God do with your life (your money, your time, your reputation, your future) what He wants?
For more information about what the Bible teaches about generosity, check out Chip Ingram’s series The Genius of Generosity.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip