From Awe to Generosity1
What are you in “Awe” of? What makes you stand in amazement or wonder? What or who draws your greatest admiration? Lately in Sunday School, we have been trying to answer these questions. One of our goals is to hopefully lead us to be a generous people. The primary goal is to see our need for Jesus in every facet of our lives, and to be able to find contentment and rest in the fact that he can meet our every need.
So what does the concept of being in Awe have to do with these goals?
First we identified that someone who is generous possesses some of the following: time, money, love, courage, contentment, and compassion. We cited the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) as an example for these generous attributes. It took time for the Samaritan to stop and help. Who knows, maybe the priest and the Levite were in a hurry to take care of some “important” religious matter. Money was also needed, as the Samaritan had to pay for lodging of the injured man. It took courage to approach a situation where someone was injured and left for dead. Could it be that the priest had no courage? And, yes, it took love to give of time and money as well as to face danger.
Ok, so what does this have to do with being in Awe? Well, each of these everyday decisions lies in the balance of what you are in Awe of. Who gives us the time we consume everyday? Who gives us the money we spend on basic needs, charity, pleasure, and security? Better yet, where do the talent and opportunities for you to earn that money come from? Is love something that naturally flows from your heart? Do you have courage to help someone, because you're strong or intelligent? Even so, if this is the case, where does your strength or intelligence come from?
You can obviously see where this is leading. God gives us all these things, and what's more is that he gives them to us to use. When we are in Awe of God, our perspective of life is focused on His kingdom and serving him. What we find is that when we are not in Awe of God, we are usually in awe of ourselves. Yes, maybe it's some object or relationship that captivates our hearts, but ultimately we are in awe of ourselves. We are saying that we know best and can find meaning, contentment, happiness, etc in ways that God has not intended. When we are in Awe of our own abilities and circumstances, we become self-centered. What happens to a self-centered person when life doesn't go the way they think it will? It's not fruit of the spirit, it's not to love your neighbor as yourself, and, no, it's not to be gracious and compassionate. What we have learned is that envy, anger, doubt, fear, covetous, discontentment, and complaining become common place. Think of Israel murmuring or Cain’s selfish attempt at worship and the result thereof. With these qualities or attributes, no one can be generous with time, money, or in sharing the gospel.
Why should we be in Awe of God? Rhetorical to some degree, but have you thought about it lately? Think about the sunrise and sunset, the stars, the beautiful things of life like children or good friendships. Romans 1:19-20 says that what can be known about God is made plainly visible to all. The creation points to the creator! On top of this, the Word is full of reasons to be in awe of God. Go read Psalm 147 (He determines the number of the stars) and Job 38 & 39. God is in control of absolutely everything, and being in Awe of him is the bedrock foundation of being a generous person.
One thing for sure is that you feeling bad over not being generous will never make you generous. Let that guilt lead you to the one who takes away your guilt.
Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
That should put you in complete Awe of God!
A great passage to tie all of this together is Colossians 3:1-17. It contrasts having your eyes fixed on heavenly things or earthly things. The results of each are telling. The passage can be a great vision for us as individuals or as the church when it comes to how the object of our hearts will bear its fruit.