A Life of Generosity

Day 2 of 3 • This day’s reading

Devotional

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." – Mark 8:34

This verse is one of the most misinterpreted passages in all of Scripture. It's not uncommon to hear someone speak of a difficult marriage or a debilitating illness as a "cross to bear." No doubt, those things are painful and challenging, but they aren't the focal point of Jesus' words. In Jesus' day, the cross was an instrument of death. In this context, the call of Jesus is a call to die. Our fundamental problem is sinful self-centeredness, and the only solution is the death of self.

Sacrificial giving is one of the ways we can experience death to self. When we give sacrificially of our time, we die to the priority of our schedule. When we serve sacrificially, we die to the need to be served. When we give sacrificially of our finances, we die to the notion of "me," "my," and "mine." We need to be clear in our own minds that this is not an easy or pain-free endeavor. But, if we understand this from the start, the experience of pain or struggle won't be able to deter us from faithfully following the command of Christ.

After all, the call of Jesus is a call to realize it's not all about us. We're not the center of the universe, and our needs and desires are not primary. Only when we die to self can we begin to see life is all about God. Who we are and whatever we have is from him and for him. When set in that light, sacrificial giving is no longer a trial or something to be avoided. Instead, it's something to be embraced, knowing it will draw us closer to Christ. This is not "works righteousness" or an attempt to bribe God. No, sacrificial giving from a sincere heart is a response to God's grace, and it signals a desire to take up the cross of Christ.

What about you? Do you make sacrificial gifts to God or only those that fit the budget? Are you willing to give God the very best or just the leftovers? How would the decision to deny yourself and take up the cross manifest in your giving?