Growing through the Motions
I was at the gym yesterday doing my normal thing – working out and watching others do their thing. I was a bit envious of a couple of people who seemed to easily lift heavy weights. There was no strain involved; just easy, smooth reps. A few young women were there lifting heavier weights than anything I have ever attempted. I realized I was trying to compare my weights with theirs. The weights are irrelevant. We all have a level we are trying to achieve in order to grow (or maintain, as the case may be). We are all in a process of growth as we go through the motions.
About a year ago while lifting weights, an older lady walked by and told me I was very strong because I was lifting such heavy weights. The weights I was lifting then was nothing in comparison to the weights the young women were lifting yesterday. But the older woman could not do what I was doing because it was far beyond her capacity at that point in her life. Just like I cannot do what I see the young women do because it is beyond my capacity at this point in my life.
As I was contemplating the comparison game, it brought to mind my pastor’s message from Sunday. The message was on generosity. Jesus spoke about money quite often. The pastor reminded us, Jesus isn’t after our money; He’s after our hearts. There can be only one Ruler of our hearts, and we have to determine who we will follow. God said He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9) – He wants no competition for our hearts.
Jesus sat in the temple courts one day observing the crowds. He saw a widow putting in two small copper coins in the offering basket (the temple treasure), and told His disciples she put in more than anyone else. She put in all she had (story in Luke 21). On another occasion, a rich young man came to Jesus to ask how he could get into heaven. Jesus looked into this young man’s heart and found the stronghold that would keep him out of the pearly gates. Jesus told the young man, “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” The young man walked away because he was a man of great wealth (story in Luke 18:18-30). The problem wasn’t the amount of money he had, but that the money had him.
We always like to compare ourselves with a better model: one who can lift heavier weights or one who has more money than we do. We compare up and not down. We compare richness with one who has more than we do; not the other way around. If we live in the United States, we can consider ourselves rich in comparison to the rest of the world; no matter what we have in our bank accounts. The widow put in all she had, and the rich young man walked away because Jesus asked him to give it all up for the sake of the Kingdom.
My pastor said we are all at different levels of generosity. Some are at the base level; giving spontaneously based on our emotional responses. The next level is giving intentionally – with a set amount for a set time period. God commands a certain level of giving. It’s in obedience when we move to the next level and give a percentage of our income back to God. This is the “first fruit offering” required in the Law to fulfill the work of God. I know, we’re under grace not Law. My pastor made the comment, “we shouldn’t give less under grace than what is required under Law.” Good point. My pastor went on to explain the last level of giving; it’s the generosity level of fearlessness.
When God speaks into our hearts, He asks us to give all we have for the sake of the Kingdom. We are to hold our resources loosely. This is just HARD to do. We work hard for the money we receive! However, God is the one who has provided for us in the first place. It’s His money in the beginning. We can be good stewards with what He gives us. We can be the “widow lady” putting in all we have or we can be the “rich young man.” Will we walk away when God asks too much from us?
Fearlessness is a reflection of growth. We are not owners, but stewards of the resources God has given to us. For those of us who call Jesus our Lord and Master, our real treasure is stored in heaven. Growth comes with the amount of trust we place in the One who gives generously to His children. He is a good, good Father who gives generously. We are all at different levels in the growth process. We work in the capacity we have right now, and grow to a new level with practice. Keep lifting higher! It’s hard, but over time we will see it becomes easier and smoother with repetition. One day, we will all be fearless!
Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:28-30