The Way to Live

I read this the yesterday in THE MESSAGE and it was such a wonderful reminder of where life really happens:

Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own.

Giving, not getting, is the way.

Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes. (Mark 4:24-25)

I love the way Jesus thinks. It is polar opposite to the way we were all trained to do things. We even think that generosity can only happen after we get enough for ourselves first. But Jesus said that living generously is the way to live in the world because it will inspire others to do the same and the world becomes a more gentle place.

But the more we grab for ourselves what we think we deserve, or ignore or belittle others around us in pursuit desire to grasp for ourselves, the more impoverished we become. All conflict and disappointed expectations originate in grasping what God hasn’t given us.

And this goes way beyond money. It’s about our time, talents. and attention as well. The more we focus on ourselves and our needs the more we are swallowed up by our own ambitions and even if successful in outward terms, we end up in a very dark and lonely place.

Of course there is no human way to live generously unless we first are secure in the reality that God is caring for us. When you know he is, then you no longer have to fight for what he hasn’t given. Then we can let Jesus show us how to live with open heart and open hands to people around us, seeking their blessing and joy even above our own. That enriches us and it makes us enriching in the world.

Life is not about our own comfort or joy; it’s about giving gifts to others—our help, friendship, support, time and talents. All the good stuff in life flows from that simple reality. According to Jesus that’s the way to really live. Self-pursuit sucks the world into us and destroys who we are. Generosity is about blessing others and that flow is filled with life and grace and joy that knows no limit.

At 57 years of age, I’m more inclined to agree with him than ever!

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8 Comments
  1. Mike April 12, 2010 at 7:05 am

    A most excellent post! I read this quote recently by Frederick Buechner that goes in line with what you say.

    “If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party.

    The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified.

    The world says, Drive carefully-the life you save may be your own- and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love.

    The world says, Get and Jesus says, Give.

    In terms of the world’s sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion.”

  2. Mike April 12, 2010 at 10:05 am

    A most excellent post! I read this quote recently by Frederick Buechner that goes in line with what you say.

    “If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party.

    The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified.

    The world says, Drive carefully-the life you save may be your own- and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love.

    The world says, Get and Jesus says, Give.

    In terms of the world’s sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion.”

  3. Alan April 13, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Thanks, Wayne – and Mike (above) – I was reading Matthew 20 earlier this week. Jesus deals with the request by a mother to allow her 2 sons to sit adjacent to Jesus in glory. He responds that we must not think as the Gentiles think. And He uses a phrase ‘Not so with you’ (NIV). This has dominated my thinking these past few days. The world has standards – and they are very different from the Kingdom of God. I have begun listing in my mind as I go through a day the things that I see, hear, experience etc – and then think ‘Not so with you…’ It’s literally life changing!

  4. Alan April 13, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks, Wayne – and Mike (above) – I was reading Matthew 20 earlier this week. Jesus deals with the request by a mother to allow her 2 sons to sit adjacent to Jesus in glory. He responds that we must not think as the Gentiles think. And He uses a phrase ‘Not so with you’ (NIV). This has dominated my thinking these past few days. The world has standards – and they are very different from the Kingdom of God. I have begun listing in my mind as I go through a day the things that I see, hear, experience etc – and then think ‘Not so with you…’ It’s literally life changing!

  5. Nancy April 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Wayne, you put it so clearly : “when you know he is (caring for us) you no longer have to fight for what he hasn’t given.” That is a great way to express a deep concept. Trusting that Jesus is good, that Father will give us everything that we need, helps me realize that if I don’t have it, I must not need it. Which leads me to a better understanding of Jesus being my All……I had long wondered what that could possibly mean, really. Practically. In everyday terms. Wasn’t it just religious hype??? No, it means that Jesus will provide for this single mom food, shelter, work, and his love and anything else he knows I need. And if a new car doesn’t pop up in front of me, or I don’t get a house vs an apartment, or a new husband doesn’t show up on my horizon, or no one offers to pay off my school loans, etc etc…..then, well, then it must be that I don’t need those things like I thought I did. Jesus has plans that I don’t know about. And he is good, and I can trust him. And that, really, is enough. Well, most of the time it is……I’m still just human.

  6. Nancy April 13, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Wayne, you put it so clearly : “when you know he is (caring for us) you no longer have to fight for what he hasn’t given.” That is a great way to express a deep concept. Trusting that Jesus is good, that Father will give us everything that we need, helps me realize that if I don’t have it, I must not need it. Which leads me to a better understanding of Jesus being my All……I had long wondered what that could possibly mean, really. Practically. In everyday terms. Wasn’t it just religious hype??? No, it means that Jesus will provide for this single mom food, shelter, work, and his love and anything else he knows I need. And if a new car doesn’t pop up in front of me, or I don’t get a house vs an apartment, or a new husband doesn’t show up on my horizon, or no one offers to pay off my school loans, etc etc…..then, well, then it must be that I don’t need those things like I thought I did. Jesus has plans that I don’t know about. And he is good, and I can trust him. And that, really, is enough. Well, most of the time it is……I’m still just human.

  7. Ben April 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    What a confirmation of all the lessons on sowing and reaping. Just from a completely different and lifegiving angle – no wonder the message of Jesus is sometimes described as the upside down kingdom. We need to live in extravagant generosity! That’s the example Jesus set, giving His life. The message we get from most pulpits is one of giving to fill the coffers of the church and support the lifestyle of the leaders.

  8. Ben April 14, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    What a confirmation of all the lessons on sowing and reaping. Just from a completely different and lifegiving angle – no wonder the message of Jesus is sometimes described as the upside down kingdom. We need to live in extravagant generosity! That’s the example Jesus set, giving His life. The message we get from most pulpits is one of giving to fill the coffers of the church and support the lifestyle of the leaders.

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