Living Generously x

A few words spoken by Jesus have been on my mind lately. They are recorded in Matthew 5:38-48. (Click this link and you can read them in the three versions: TNIV, NIV and KJV.)

As I’ve reflected on these verses, Eugene Peterson’s rendering has proven to be most helpful:

38-42“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

43-47“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (The Message)

Heeding Jesus’ leading is not always the easiest path to follow, is it? It’s certainly not the course of least resistance. Living into this high calling can, in fact, lead us down some incredibly rough and rocky roads. In spite of the fact that it is not easy and while openly confessing that I have often fallen short of Jesus’ calling, I’m still convinced this is the best way to live. So I am want to ask:

— What about you, do you believe this is the best way to live?

— How have you been able to incorporate this teaching in your daily lives?

— What words of advice do you have for others who are struggling to live into the Lord’s will in this regard?

© Bill Williams
November 13, 2007

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
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5 Responses to Living Generously x

  1. cwinwc says:

    Living out this teaching is not a sign of “weakness” but rather it takes strength to put aside fear and live as Jesus would have us to live.

  2. Nicole says:

    I think people misuse these scripture verses. I think the Spirit of God alone is able to produce right conduct in us, and in these verses it is demonstrated that the opposite of our flesh’s reaction is indeed the higher ground to take.

    However, Jesus often lofted some high and tight fastballs to the Pharisees, told the disciples a thing or two when they needed to wise up, and truthfulness permeated every one of his responses.

    Discipline is required in some situations with people. Being an enabler is not the best choice either. The Holy Spirit needs to be the one determining what conduct is correct for different circumstances. These scriptures do demonstrate the extension of grace, but grace can also be extended in disciplinary occurrences as well.

  3. preacherman says:

    Bill,
    I want to thank for such an excellent post brother.
    I think that alot of time when people give they give out of other reasons: fear, obligation, and on and on. I believe as a Christian the reason I give is because gave his life for me so I am will to give unselfishly anything for anyone and anytime even if it is uncomfotable. You think of the cross, am pretty sure that was uncomfortable don’t you. I give generously from the bottom of my heart without question or requirements or obligations. When someone come by my office. I pay their water bill, electric bill, gas bill, if they need to stay a night in town I find them a room, the need a meal I feed them, if a single mom comes in and needs diapers I buy them. I believe the church should meet needs. Show grace. We change one heart and life at a time and we will cange the view of the church. It will be known for their love, grace.

    People will say….”DId you hear about the Church of Christ they are most unselfish people and gracious people I know. They don’t even ask question and leave matters in the hands of God, can you believe that?”. Did you hear about the Church of Christ, “They give generously to Orphans, Hurrican Releifs, AIDS Cure Foundations, Cancer Society, and countsless other social other causes that others would stay away from.”

    The Church of Christ are a group of people who make a difference.

  4. laymond says:

    It is the best way, also the hardest to maintain. Builds character , yours and the other person’s

  5. Kathy says:

    I’ve often asked myself if the only way we can be generous to others, as Peterson says, only through monetary assistance.? Or can the uncomplicated giving away of money to the needy also be used as a mechanism to keep us from the real giving; that of ourselves, our grace toward others, the sharing of self with those that so hunger for deep, meaningful human relationship – sort of a mirror of that relationship we deeply desire with God?

    What would truly and authentically be our expression of “[Living] generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”?

    Yes, absolutely we also need to give of our monetary means where we have it, but should we not examine that giving, making sure it isn’t a vehicle to keep others a good physical and emotional distance from us?

    Again, it’s a thing of the heart, rather than following the letter of the law in the way of the Pharisees.

    Again, Bill – a wonderful thought-provoking blog. Bless you!!

    AND – HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOURS!!!

    That’s a prayer for all of us, btw!! 🙂

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