On a trip to Israel, I visited both of that nation’s inland bodies of water. One, the Sea of Galilee, is a sparkling gem, full of life. The other, 30 miles downstream at the end of the Jordan River, is the aptly name Dead Sea. That lake is a fascinating thing. The water is so full of salts and minerals that nothing can live in it. The surrounding landscape is barren, nothing but desert and crusty salts.
So what’s the difference? The Sea of Galilee receives fresh water from the mountains and overflows into the Jordan river, constantly replenished. The Dead Sea is 1412’ below sea level with no outlet. The only way water leaves that lake is through evaporation which leaves minerals behind. It is about 10x as salty as the ocean!
Here’s my thought today – are you refreshed, a source of life in your world. Do you measure your happiness by what flows into your life or what flows out of it?
Like the Dead Sea in Israel, if you are not giving to others, sharing love, offering grace; you will develop toxic levels of selfishness that will choke all life from you.
Generosity is a prime result of the life of the Spirit in you and me. When we know, by faith, that we are held securely in His Hand, that He will provide us ‘according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus‘ (Phil. 4.19) we will become a source of living water for family, friends, and our world. Selfishness IS completely antithetical a genuine experience of renewal in the Spirit of God.
We are blessed to be a blessing! The pithy wisdom of the Proverbs reminds us that “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything. The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NLT
The principle of generosity is about much more than our money. It is a way of life that invests in the joys and sorrows of the people around us, that overflows with gentle forgiveness, and that liberally recognizes the individual contribution that others make to the well-being of the whole!
Paul, as he was leaving for Jerusalem where he would face arrest and long imprisonment, reminded the Ephesian Believers: “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: `It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “ (Acts 20:35 NLT) Early in his life, he was a man focused on self-improvement, on protecting his own traditions, on gaining power. Then, he met the Lord and was knocked off his high horse.
Grace flowed into his life and Paul opened the spigot to let it flow back out! He gave up everything – comfort, treasure, time, reputation – to take the good news of God’s acceptance to the wide world.
Jesus told us to “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38, NIV) In context, He is speaking about a generous spirit, one that does not harshly judge others, that is accepting, not condemning Just prior to urging generosity, He says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37, NIV)
What a word for Christians in our divided nation of 2022! How we need to pray for a heart full of the Living Water of Christ Jesus, overflowing into our harsh, critical, ugly nation with healing and life. Practice generosity today! Give yourself away. Do it in the smallest of ways… letting someone go before you in the checkout line, slowing down for the driver who wants to get into your lane of traffic. Do it in a bigger way… when someone you know falls down, reach out to help them up. When a `juicy tale’ falls into your hands, bury it and never repeat it no matter how much fun it might be to share! Write a check to someone in need or better, put some cash in an envelope and give it to them without disclosing the source.
Do it in the biggest way… pray for God’s blessings to rest on your worst enemy. Pray for them to experience the LOVE of the Father! (and mean it!)
Here’s a word from the Word. It’s familiar, so take care that familiarity does not breed contempt. Read it slowly and prayerfully, asking that the Spirit will bring the full truth to fruitfulness in your life today. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:24-25, NLT)
Do not become so full of yourself that you become ‘dead.’ Let your life overflow with grace and goodness and God will ‘pour on the blessings in astonishing ways.’
All my lifelong I had panted
For a draught from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within
Hallelujah I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved
Jesus satisfies my longings
Thro’ His blood I now am saved
Feeding on the husks around me
Till my strength was almost gone
Longed my soul for something better
Only still to hunger on
Poor I was and sought for riches
Something that would satisfy
But the dust I gathered ’round me
Only mocked my soul’s sad cry
Well of water ever springing
Bread of life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth
My Redeemer is to me
Clara Tear Williams – Public Domain