Ropes That Hold Us Back
Thursday - July 23rd Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 5:27-32
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7
It seems that baby elephants were traditionally trained by tying one of their front legs to a stake in the ground. (Most of the modern world considers keeping elephants like this inhumane, and the practice has all but ended.) Because the elephants are small, only a thin rope is required. They'll struggle and pull at first, but eventually, they realize that they can't break the line and give up.
Elephants grow fast. Before long, those cute babies are lumbering giants. But here's the thing: That same thin rope is all that's needed to keep them secured. They think the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.
As human beings, many of us have thin ropes that tie us down and hold us back. These ropes that limit us develop over time and provide a certain sense of stability and security. Breaking free seems impossible. If not impossible, we perceive the pain in doing so will be too great to take the risk.
The full-grown elephant is controlled by errant thoughts rooted in a false narrative. That false narrative limits its movement and its freedom. The followers of Christ can be restricted by false narratives in so many areas of life as well. One of the critical areas where wrong thinking robs us of so much is the area of generosity. We hold onto mental models of giving to God's work that warp our understanding of what happens as we give and the joy found in the very act of giving to something bigger than ourselves - the Kingdom of God.
In a world full of stuff, materialism's push for us to get and gain more convinces us that wealth provides stability and satisfaction. We buy into the notion that generosity only flows from the excess of what we have. Giving to God's Kingdom work and others' needs becomes a luxury for those who have more than we do. We assume that they give, and they enjoy it. We expect those with excess resources to be generous, and of course, they will enjoy it. We give out of some sense of obligation and duty. Often, there is little or no satisfaction in it. We are tied to a mentality that limits our giving, limits our joy in giving, and limits the blessing God wants us to experience because we have given.
Let's break that mental rope that holds us to a flawed view of generosity in the Christian life. Let's embrace giving as a healthy discipline that, as we exercise it, helps make us more like Jesus. To do that, we have to break the tiny ropes and stakes in the ground that hold us back. As they limit and control us, we are robbed of the joy and satisfaction God wants us to experience in being generous.
Paul taught the first-century church in Corinth how to be generous. "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). God loves a cheerful giver for several reasons. First, they have broken the lines that truly have no power to limit them. Second, they have leveraged His blessings in their lives for the good of others and His glory. Third, they gave freely to His Kingdom - not out of guilt or coercion. They wanted to be generous because God had been generous to them. Fourth, God loves seeing his children find more joy and satisfaction in giving to others than in getting for themselves. He wants us to enjoy life, free of the trappings of this world's stuff.
When you give, do you give cheerfully? Do you look forward to giving to God's work and the needs of others? Ask God to release you from the old thoughts that hold you back in being generous. Ask God to grow excitement and joy in you at the prospect of giving!
God loves cheerful givers! Are you a cheerful giver?