Christmas is a wonderful time of year for many reasons. For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, it is an important time to remember the significance of what he did for us. Oftentimes, we focus on what he did from our own perspective. He saved us, he made a way for us to be with God, he provided a path to eternal life.
It’s important for us to pause and look at things from his perspective, though, too. He gave up all the benefits of being God to become a man. Then he took on our sins and was completely separated from God. When we look at all that Jesus did and how he did it, we see a beautiful model of generosity that we can follow in our own lives. Most of us will not need to physically die for another, but we can still emulate Jesus’ generosity in other ways.
Live with an Open Hand
The first aspect of Jesus’ generosity with us that I want to point out is that he lived with an open hand. Philippians 2:6 tells us that Jesus, “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” (ESV) His position in heaven as eternal God was something that he had and was rightfully his, but he did not hang on to it tightly even though he would have been justified in doing so. Rather, instead of grasping hold of it, he generously let go of it and became a man for our sake.
In much the same way, a generous life requires us to live with an open hand. It isn’t about what is rightfully ours, what we deserve, or what we’ve earned. It’s about remembering that what we have in Christ is infinitely more important than anything we could hold in our earthly hands, and living accordingly.
I love the passage in Ephesians 4:28 where the Apostle Paul addresses those who steal. As many of us would, he tells them to stop stealing and go to work. But what is the reasoning he provides? He doesn’t tell them to do so because stealing is wrong, though it is. He doesn’t tell them to do so to avoid punishment and jail, though that is a good reason. He doesn’t tell them to do so because work is fulfilling and from God, though it is. He tells them to stop stealing and start working, “so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (ESV) There are a lot of good reasons to work and not steal, but Paul chose to highlight generosity.
Live with an Open Ear
The idea of living with an open hand is not new, many people preach it both inside and outside of the church. But it isn’t enough to simply live with an open hand. You must live with an open ear as well. By that, I mean that you must be in communication with God and your generosity should follow his guidance and not just your own feelings or societal pressures.
Jesus modeled this perfectly for us. He knew that he came to earth to die for our sins. Yet, he didn’t just jump at the first opportunity that presented itself. He stayed in constant communion with God so that he could follow his voice regarding the timing and manner in which he was to make his ultimate sacrifice. In John 7:6, Jesus tells his disciples, “My time has not yet come,” (ESV) just as he told his mother in John 2:4. How did he know it wasn’t his time yet? He spent regular time alone with God, as we see in Luke 5:16, 6:12, and 22:41.
This Christmas as you celebrate Jesus’ birth, remember that he didn’t only come to die, he showed us how to live as well. God has called us to a life of generosity and he has shown us how to live such a life through Jesus’ example. Jesus showed us that true biblical generosity involves both an open hand and an open ear.
Generosity isn’t just about helping people or getting a tax deduction or checking off a box on the list of things Christians are supposed to do. Generosity is a way for you to partner with God in what he is doing in order to be transformed into his likeness. While all kinds of generosity do good here on earth, when you partner with God with an open hand and open ear, as Jesus did, there will be eternal rewards.
About Guide Financial Planning
Guide Financial Planning is led by founder Ben Wacek, who is a Christian fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Kingdom Advisor®. He has a passion to help people of all income levels make wise financial decisions and steward their resources from an eternal perspective using Biblical principles. Based in Minneapolis, MN, he works with clients both locally and virtually throughout the country and abroad. You can follow the links to learn more about Guide Financial Planning and our team and the services we offer.