When God was preparing to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, he was clear about the values he wanted the Israelites to espouse in their new home. He wanted his spiritual children to know how to live in a way that would put them firmly in the path of his blessings.
Generosity was one of those key values. And it was a value God had displayed many, many times to the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. From manna, to quail, to water flowing from rocks, God had taken care of the Israelites’ needs each day for 40 years.
Now God asked the Israelites to do the same for each other in their new home. And he graciously offered them a promise of rewards to encourage them.
One can’t think of generosity without thinking of Jesus. He’s the epitome of generosity. How can one possibly give up more than one’s own life? And Jesus did that for each of us!
Now we have an opportunity to give up a small portion of what God has given us, in order to display the heart and hands of Jesus in our world today. Having been so richly blessed, we now get to bless others who need our help.
Open your hands and be a blessing to others, God says. Hardhearted and tightfisted is not at all what God has been toward you. Hardhearted and tightfisted is not the way for you to be towards others!
Open hearts and open hands give you a chance to say a big-time “thank-you!” to Jesus. Open hearts and open hands will also place you firmly in the path of God’s graciously promised blessings.
This message is actually so important, it’s not just in what Moses commanded the Israelites. It’s also in what Jesus taught a Pharisee…
“If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need… Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10, NIV).
“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous'” (Luke 14:12-14, NIV).
Lord Jesus, you have an open heart and open hands toward me. There’s no greater example of this than what you gave for me on the cross. Send your Holy Spirit to help me grasp hold of that sacrifice of grace for the forgiveness of my sins. And in your grace, help me to show grace to others — with an open heart and open hands.
Our Bible reading for Saturday, April 11, is Deuteronomy 15:1 – 16:20, Luke 13:31 – 14:14 and Psalm 44:1-12.