Repentance and Generosity
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mk 1:15
Repent! From what? Jesus did not say! Nor does the New Testament. The idea that we are to repent from sins comes from the Old Testament where the Israelites were repeatedly asked to repent from their wicked ways. While repentance from sins is required, the primary emphasis of both the Old and New Testaments is actually the command “You shall have no other gods before me”. The actual repentance required of us is a repentance from other gods, and a turning to Yahweh. It is only after we come to God that we are called to repent from our sins to maintain our relationship with Him.
For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. (Ezekiel 14:7-8)
The other gods that we may have are not always physical idols. They can be invisible attitudes of our hearts. For example, Matthew 6:24 says that we cannot worship both God and money. Here the other god that we need to repent from is money. What does it mean to worship money? It means to trust money to provide for our needs instead of trusting Yahweh.
Other idols of the heart could be status, education etc., but the most powerful with the largest following is money. Most people seem to accept Jesus as their saviour from sin but retain their trust in money as their saviour for life. But as long as we see money as our saviour for life, we cannot be sacrificially generous. Not only that, our Christian life will not be as victorious as it should be.
1 Timothy 6:10 says that the root of evil is love or trust in money or the things of this world. If we have not repented from trust in money for our life, sin will not leave us. Repentance from money or material things must precede repentance from sin. Repentance from the world leads to salvation and the subsequent repentance from sin leads to sanctification and the victorious Christian life.
Once we repent from trust in the material we can then be generous with the material things we have. But if we trust these material things for our life, it becomes difficult to be generous.
Do you trust God for everything in your life?