Part of the current morning routine in our house involves me dozily grappling for the on switch of my HiFi to hear the morning news. This is half because we are conscientious citizens who want to stay abreast of what is going in the world and half because, if we don’t have some sort of noise, I’m pretty sure that both my wife and I would be consistently late for work and our child would not get fed. It is fair to say we are not morning people.
Anyway, swiftly back to the subject of news... However dazed I might be whilst listening, I am invariably struck each morning by ongoing talk of the financial hardship which is an increasing reality here in the UK and amongst our European neighbours. Whilst we feel the pinch of pricey food, pay freezes, redundancy and other real pressures, I can’t help but notice that some countries are really hitting the skids. You can’t hear their names without the word ‘austerity’ following hot on the heels. And that got me thinking: ‘How does living under this pressure of financial uncertainty effect our faith?’ It seems entirely logical that we should become more cautious and conservative with our personal finances in such times. Yet I read this in Scripture of fellow Christians, who lived not too far from where things seem to be melting down right now:
“In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” - 2 Corinthians 8:2
Read that again. ‘Severe affliction’ + ‘abundance of joy’ + ‘extreme poverty’ = ‘wealth of generosity’. Something powerful has clearly entered the equation to yield that result! It is the ‘abundance of joy’ - not something that can be manufactured, but rather comes from a right knowledge and personal understanding of the true and living God. Recently, a fellow Church of Christ the King member named Roy posted the comment below on a video by Joel. In the video Joel had touched on the sacrificial nature of giving to God’s mission. Roy shows His insight into the loving workings of the God that I recognise from Scripture when he says the following:
“Those who give their holiday money to the Lord via the Gift Day may well find themselves exchanging Bognor for Barbados; the Lord is like that. But if not, He can come down on us in our own front room for the two weeks, in such a way that the time will have to be described as the most wondrous break ever experienced by get-away-from-it-all devotees; truly the holiday of a lifetime. When the living Lord fills the room the sunshine is blazing and the resultant “tan” draws gasps.”
And there you have it - He is our reward (Genesis 15:1) and, being the One who gave us the greatest gift in the person of His own Son Jesus, He won’t stint on giving us everything else (Romans 8:32) Tight times should by no means produce tight Christians because we have a lavish God, who “is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) As Malachi 3:10 has it - “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” You simply cannot out-give God.