It’s probably appropriate that I would write something no different than about Thanksgiving. I am grateful for the people God has placed in my path–for family, friends, my city, my church, my recovery small group. I don’t deserve any of those things, yet by God’s grace He has provided. But I keep pondering this thought that resides in 1 John 4:19: We love because He first loved us. I am beyond grateful that I don’t have to look at God as some cosmic figure who demands my self-righteous deeds. I am grateful that He chose me- a wretched sinner. Me–the depraved, captive, enslaved to sin, sinner. I desired everything opposite of God, yet in His infinite grace, He first loved me. He chose to captivate my sinful heart and make me pure by the blood of Jesus. I am reconciled to my loving Father through Jesus alone. You see, just as Christ first loved us before we loved him, the motivation of giving should be that of the same. He gave Himself up for His church, so our desire to give should be an overflow of this love and service.
Society tells us strikingly opposite than what Jesus has to say in the Bible about giving. Society basically screams to give to others so that you might return a favor or be blessed for it. That is a complete narcissistic and selfish motive to give and if we’re honest– it is our natural desire. So we must pray against these motives and for God to sever them. I recently heard a sermon about this subject and it was convicting. My pastor preached out of Matthew 6:1-4– “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
The sole motive for giving should be a response to what Jesus has done for us. It should be an act of worship to give to others, because of what has been fulfilled for us in Christ. I’m not just talking about giving money. This includes our time, service, and talents. We don’t do these things to earn anything from God or to get closer to Him. This is why it is so humbling and reassuring to be reminded of what God has saved me out of and set me free to. He desires joy for me and brings satisfaction to my soul like no one or nothing else can. He pours His mercies over me each morning and patiently awaits like a Dad who waits at the door for his child. He prys idols from my hands and heart only to show me that anything other than Jesus hinders me from freedom.
Not one speck of me deserves the kind of love that Jesus bestows upon me. For me to feel entitled to anything in this life is an inaccurate depiction of the gospel. I am not entitled, but every part of my flesh and society tells me that I am. I can’t graduate from the fact that yet while I was still a sinner by nature, Christ came to save me (Romans 5:8). The demonstrated love that I display horizontally should be a direct response from the vertical overflowed love I have received from God.