Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Giver, Not An Ascetic

As a youth, I infamously remarked once "it's the gift that counts." Years of teasing, and frequent attempts at trying to explain, have left me with one conclusion. . . I was right. It is the gift that counts, if you're the giver.

This was brought to mind recently when I heard a pastor exposit on contentedness. This is a subject that's near and dear to my heart and so I listened with rapt attention. One point that I found extremely interesting was that God commands us to be content with what we do have, not content with what we're without (Mike Fabarez, Nov. 28, 2007). In other words, the focus is not on our lack, its on our abundance. Regardless of what we have, all of God's children have exceeding riches (See Ephesians 1:7). Additionally God has given us many physical things "for our enjoyment" (See I Timothy 6:17). Some, those who are ascetics, believe that physical goods are trappings and should be disposed of. However, Paul makes it clear that we are to trust that these good things come from the One who is Good, and enjoy them accordingly.

Continuing his charge, Paul admonishes those who are rich in physical goods to share generously with others. Although this goes outside of the bounds of Paul's instructions, I believe that one of the reasons for this is because it is the most pronounced way that we can enjoy these physical blessings. When we share with others, our enjoyment increases. When we can use what we've been given to be a blessing, we've helped advance the Kingdom. Giving isn't just good for the recipient, its good for the giver. It brings the giver enjoyment.

My remark from when I was younger was, in all honesty, a mistake. But sometimes the "folly of our youth" can prove more wise than we originally anticipated.



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A Giver, Not An Ascetic