Thanks – Giving

Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving approaching quickly, hopefully we will take the time to prepare our hearts for a day of giving thanks. We have so much to be thankful for! Yet, what should our thankfulness lead to? Worship, praise, adoration. Yes! Most definitely, we ought to glorify God in all his splendor for who he is and what he has done for the world. Anything else? Please allow me to press in a little where it might hurt. I am curious, how will your giving be affected by what you are thankful for?

Love God & Love Neighbor

In Luke 10:25 an expert of the Law asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life? Instead of answering, “You must repent of your idolatry and trust in my righteousness,” Jesus asked the expert of the law how he would answer his own question. Well, instead of reading off all 700 or so commands, he summarized them in two statements: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

The Good Samaritan

Jesus said go and do likewise and the expert in the Law felt the impossibility of Jesus’ statement, thus this is the reason he asked for a qualifier. “Who is my neighbor?” Like us, the expert in the Law wanted to make Jesus’ command manageable. Jesus again, does not answer this man’s question directly but begins to tell a moving story about a Jew who was robbed and left for dead on a dangerous road. Jesus went on to tell how two religious types saw the man and walked on the other side of the road and left their country man behind. In contrast to the Jewish religious types, Jesus tells of a Samaritan (A racial halfbreed and theologically unorthodox) who sees the man in the road. Instead of moving to the other side and walking by, the Samaritan is moved with compassion.

Jesus’ story continues, the Samaritan meets the immediate health, transportation and lodging needs of this Jewish man left for dead and ignored by his own people. The Samaritan pays two days wages upfront to the hotel owner and gives him a blank check incase any other needs arise before he comes back. Note, the Samaritan plans to come back. This is not a one and done situation. What we see here is that the Samaritan puts himself in physical and financial jeopardy so this man can live. Jesus ends this conversation by asking the expert in the Law “which out of the three proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” The Jewish expert of the Law was lovingly forced by Jesus to answer that one of his enemies, a Samaritan, was the one who proved to be a neighbor to the needy man.

Don’t Make Jesus’ Command Manageable 

What is Jesus trying to communicate? Not only is Jesus answering who our neighbors are, but he also answers how we are to be a neighbor. This type of generosity would have seemed scandalous to the listeners. Jesus deliberately put a Jew in need and the Jew’s only hope of salvation was his enemy. This would have been shocking and even offensive for the Jews to think of enemies like these pouring out their lives for one another’s flourishing. Jesus tells the expert in the Law to go and do as the Samaritan did, just as he said to keep the summary of the law. If you are feeling the same tension the expert in the Law felt, please don’t ask Jesus to make his command manageable.

The Great Samaritan

The friction we feel when we are told to pour out our lives in deeds of mercy to the needy, even our enemies, is there for a reason. We are required to keep a law we can’t fulfill. Jesus is wanting us to look beyond what is manageable to what is unimaginable. The Jew left for dead in the story above got a good Samaritan to meet his needs, you and me have the Great Samaritan! You will never give like Jesus commands until you see Jesus as the Great Samaritan who entered your road of life at the cost of his life, meeting all of your needs, even when you were enemies with him. Jesus would have been completely just to pass over us, but he was moved with compassion! Only when you believe this will you pour out your life for other’s sake, for God’s sake and not your own anymore. When you begin to functionally believe who Christ is for you and the world, then your giving will seem scandalous to many. Jesus meets our needs in a way that we are freed to put ourselves in physical and financial jeopardy so others can live. How will your giving be affected by what you are thankful for?

This post was heavily influenced by the ministry of Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. God has blessed me with the opportunity to lead a Missional Living growth group on Sunday Mornings at Wellspring Church in Charlotte, NC and we use Keller’s excellent resource Gospel in Life.


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About Daniel Ray
My wife and I live in Waxhaw, NC. Currently, I am a Sales Manager for a flooring company in Charlotte and also a distance student at UNCG. When I have time I like to hear live music, play golf, run, read good books, hike and ride my mountain bike. My wife and I are sinners saved by grace, trying to walk it out in grace.

One Response to Thanks – Giving

  1. Pingback: Unexpected Christmas Store « NewSelf

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