Generosity

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 1.50.28 PMMatthew 6:19-24 is all about how we should view money. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but it is! We read this passage on January 8th, so if you want to, get out your Bible now and re-read it, or, you can just read it below. It’s actually in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 2“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Now, I LOVE the Sermon on the Mount!!! Matthew 5-7 is packed full of amazing teachings. There’s a verse or two in todays scripture that can seem random in its placement. I’ve bolded what I’m talking about. Directly before it, Jesus is teaching not to collect treasures here on earth. Then, directly after it, he goes back to that concept and and tells us we can’t serve God and money. So… why would Jesus talk about light and eyes in the middle of a money discussion?

Because he was using a Hebrew idiom! The common theme is consistent in all five of these verses. We just miss it because our expressions are different from Jesus’ day.

In Jesus time, if someone had a “good eye” it meant they were generous.
Having a “bad eye” meant someone was selfish.

So, the opening thought is for us not to store up treasures here on earth. Then STAYING IN THAT SAME CONCEPT, Jesus says we should be generous. When a person is generous their whole body is filled with light.  In Hebrew, the whole body means your whole person. Not just your physical body, it’s your spirit – who you are.

When you are generous, you live in the light. Your whole person is seen and exposed. It is good, and Godly. When a person has a bad eye, they are selfish. As a result, their spirit is full of darkness. They are not being Godly because they are not thinking of others.

You could paraphrase the first verse like this: How you give to others shows who you are. If you are generous, you are Godly. If you are selfish, you are not Godly.

Brutal, right?
Let’s do the same thing with the next verse.

It says, If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness. Using what we have learned about this verse, it could be paraphrased as…

If the good you do comes out of a selfish spirit, then your selfishness is worse than you realize.

We need to be sure the good we do is not for our benefit. We should never give out of manipulation or a desire for power. That is not true generosity. It is selfishness. And selfish generosity… isn’t generosity at all.

What popped out to you in this weeks reading? Are there any verses that are echoing your mind this week?

Leave a Reply