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Gracious Generosity

Michael Beck Michael Beck

God is a radical giver. He gives to those others would not. Paul distinguished between the kind of love that is common in the world of men and the love of God revealed in the gospel:

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:6-8)

If God had sized up our worthiness, and given to us accordingly, He would have given us nothing. The precious gift of God’s Son was given to an undeserving world. The ages to come will reveal the kindness of God toward us. He loved His enemies. He did good to those who hated Him. He blessed those who cursed Him. His kindness extended to the unthankful and the evil.

Man’s innate sense of justice militates against grace.

Jesus taught His disciples to exhibit radical generosity, knowing He was on His way to the cross, where His self-giving would be the ultimate act of graciousness. He knew what He would do, and what He was calling them to do, cut completely against our natural grain. Man’s innate sense of justice militates against grace. Men are willing to give to the worthy. They are able to love those who love them. But of this type of generosity, Christ asked: “Is grace involved?”

“For if ye love them which love you, what thank (charis = grace) have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank
(charis = grace) have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank
(charis = grace) have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”
(Luke 6:32-36)

The true test of generosity is in situations which naturally call for retribution.

Godly generosity proceeds from a grace filled heart. By grace we are saved. The gift of salvation that God gives us is by grace. Were it not for the grace of God we would all be receiving the just deserts for our sins. God showed Himself to be a God worthy of the highest adoration and love, not by taking vengeance upon our sins, but by showing us mercy. Grace gives to the undeserving; and even more so, it gives good to those who are worthy of being recompensed evil for their evil.

The true test of generosity is in situations which naturally call for retribution.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:38-48)

Men are fond to talk of love; but true expressions of gracious love are deemed foolhardy.

God did not merely exhort us to love. He demonstrated what His kind of love looks like. Love gives. It gives so radically that it offends the naturally unmerciful heart of man. Men are fond to talk of love; but true expressions of gracious love are deemed foolhardy. We are afraid of being taken advantage of. But God takes a risk with every one of us when He gives us the free gift of salvation. His plan is that we will love Him because of His so great love for us. He has gone before us, showing us the way He would have us to be.

Jesus told His disciples that the works He did they would do also. But He told them that they would do greater works than healing the sick and raising the dead. The greatest of all works are actions that proceed from God’s love. If we have faith to move mountains, but don’t have this kind of love behind it, we have nothing. The apostles desired the better gifts, and exhorted the church toward the same.

We are called to be amazingly gracious, and give to those who have not earned, merited, or deserved what we give them.

“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12:17-21)

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8,9)

It is simply not enough to not recompense evil with evil. We are called to be amazingly gracious, and give to those who have not earned, merited, or deserved what we give them. Would we be like our God? Then we will overcome the natural instinct for retaliation, and like our good and gracious God, give in an astounding, radical way.


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.