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As we reach the end of a Lent season that none of us could have expected, the cross stands within our sights as the ultimate symbol of love triumphing, freedom won and debt paid. Jesus told a powerful parable about a man who successfully pleaded to have his debts cancelled. Sadly, instead of modelling the grace and mercy he’d received, he went out and demanded repayment from someone who owed him relatively very little. Jesus’ sacrifice has released us from all that we couldn’t repay. Who owes you something? Can you extend mercy to them?
One act today: Whether you feel that someone owes you an apology, has left you disappointed and hurt after a broken promise or even if someone is financially in your debt, it’s time to let go and release them from their obligation. Extend forgiveness to them either in prayer or when you can, in person.
‘One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.’Proverbs 11:24 NIV
I’ve been a Christian for 27 years and in that time my wife, Lizzie, and I have experienced what it means to walk in the truth – that we all have a daily set of decisions that will have eternal consequences for our own lives and those around us.
It’s not easy to get our heads around the wholehearted love that God our Father has for each of us. It’s outrageous, unreal (except it is very, very real!). Fully accepting his forgiveness is something we need to return to, time and time again. We are really truly forgiven in every way – it’s the biggest gift there is. When we spend time soaking up that truth, three things happen:
- Our gratitude to God grows.
- Joy in our own salvation is restored.
- We want to share that grace with others.
It just becomes easier to forgive and be open-hearted and generous of spirit with other people.
Part of being generous is about letting go of what we regard as ‘ours’. We don’t need to be uptight with others because God wasn’t with us. We don’t need to right every wrong for God; he is quite capable! Have you allowed your faith to permeate your life so much that you live with a generous heart? Do we live gratefully for all he has poured into our lives, enough to simply decide to live in a generous way?
Proverbs 11:24–25 in The Message reminds us with force the consequences of Godly living: ‘The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.’
When Lizzie and I got married 23 years ago, we were compelled to start Christians Against Poverty; we decided we’d live grateful and generous lives. We’ve seen the fruit of this in our own lives, thanks to God. We’ve also seen the joy it brings when others are captivated by his challenge to live generously.
The choice is simple and stark, yet it’s one that will unlock so much richness of life. Today, stop and commit to live gratefully for all he has done and be determined to be generous in attitude and in action. Find grace for that person – you know the one I mean. Your world will get larger and larger and never have we seen anyone who regretted living a generous life!
John started CAP with his wife, Lizzie, in 1996 and has seen God grow CAP to serve over 20,000 poor and needy people every year, all through 600 church-based centres in the UK dealing with debt, long-term unemployment, life-controlling habits and poor life skills.
CAP has grown around the world and is now in five countries.