Rachel Beckwith only lived nine years, but she managed to give more than most of us do in eighty years. She made a powerful impact on a continent she had never visited.
When she was five, she had her hair cut off to give to an organization which makes wigs to help children who lost their hair because of illness. When she was nine, at church she heard about an organization called “Charity Waters” which digs wells for villages in Africa.
One out of ten people in the world live without access to clean water.
Rachel decided to ask people to give to Charity Waters for her birthday instead of giving her a gift. She set up a giving page (https://my.charitywater.org/rachel-beckwith-1/rachels9thbirthday) but was a bit disappointed that she only raised $220 of her $300 goal.
Shortly after that she was killed in an automobile accident.
Friends wanted to honor her and began to give to her project. The story spread like wildfire and at last count she had raised $1,265,823 so that tens of thousands of Africans could have clean water.
Last week we talked about judging and condemning. We said that as far as we were concerned those attitudes stopped the change process and kept God from continuing to work, at least in our mind. We condemn and pass sentence. For us the thing is done. What a tragedy.
Jesus didn’t stop there in His teaching, though. He went on to talk about giving and forgiving.
Giving and Forgiving
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 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 6:37, 38)
First let me ask you a question. Did Jesus say anything about money here? Of course, money is included in this truth but to limit the Lord’s teaching to finances would be sad. Honestly, Jesus didn’t have a lot of money. The Message paraphrase opens our eyes a bit.
“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” (Luke 7:37, 38 MSG)
Norman Macewen said it well, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Giving opens the door to a life full of juice-filled fruit, juice that runs down your chin onto your neck.
Watch out, though. God uses your measuring stick to bless you. If your measuring stick is tiny, God takes it from your hand and uses it for you. He doesn’t pour out life on you if you don’t pour out life to others.
We know that a little bit from God is like a deluge from one of us. He poured out His life on the Cross so that we could have life. Let’s pass it on.
It’s so easy to become a black hole for help and blessing. We’re not thankful and we become leech-like: “A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” (Proverbs 30:15 MSG)
Ice Cream Measure
Ice cream and I have a love story that goes back a long way. Now in my mature years I’ve fallen in love with a brand called Blue Bell, “homemade vanilla.” It even feels good to see that in type.
The problem with ice cream is that it has been known to make people fat and my love swells so much that I overdo it. Recently, they began to put Bluebell into three ounce cups. (85 grams) So, if I have a half gallon container of it, I’ll put it into one of these cups that I’ve previously emptied.
I have to admit, though, that my portion might exceed three ounces because I’ll press it down, heap it up on top, then get an extra (large) spoonful to boot.
God blesses those who live their lives generously like I bless myself with ice cream: “…good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over …”
Here’s a powerful truth, a life-changing truth—God uses the same measure to bless us that we use to bless others. Only God’s measuring device is much bigger than ours.
Stop just a minute … how are you going to switch measuring sticks for a more generous size? Do you see places in your life that are stopped up, vis a vis others? What are you going to do about it?
The measuring stick God uses for forgiveness seems to be related to that one you use for others, too.
When we judge those who hurt us and condemn them to prison in our mind, we act contrary to how God treated us. We feel we’re entitled to hold grudges, because someone hurt us so badly.
That kind of thinking minimizes the pain God feels because of our sin and maximizes the pain that other inflict on us. If you want a glimpse of God’s hurt at our unfaithfulness, read how the Lord compares His feelings to those of a man named Hosea whose heart screamed in agony because of the adultery of his wife. (Hosea 3).
That kind of thinking also minimizes the pain that Jesus felt on the Cross. How can we ask for forgiveness if we won’t give it?
I don’t diminish our pain: betrayal, unfaithfulness, mean words, neglect, failure to keep promises, disappointment, misunderstanding, seeing others receive the honor we wanted to have.
Sometimes we subconsciously blame God because we missed our dreams, or He didn’t act the way we thought He should. The unchangeable truth is that forgiven people must forgive.
If you’ve made up your mind, say it out loud, “I forgive them Lord.”
“But, I don’t feel like I’ve forgiven!” (“Or, I don’t want to forgive.”)
Forgiveness happens in our spirit and our will before it happens in our feelings. Sometimes, it takes a while for our feelings to get the message, but we act in forgiveness before we feel forgiveness.
I think a lot of people have a hard time believing God can forgive them because they haven’t forgiven someone else. So, if I want to live in a place of overflowing blessings I can’t judge or condemn. I must be a giver and a forgiver. How hard can that be? Let’s do it!
The Most Generous One
In this matter of not judging, we have a Mentor/Coach/Master. Look at the Lord Jesus, look at the Cross. That’s the ultimate place of giving and forgiving.
And look how the Father poured His blessings on his giving Son.
“ (Jesus-Christ) didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 MSG)
“Grace inspires generosity. Abundance flows from generosity.”
Debbie Macomber states: “When gratitude becomes a habit, then generosity seems to follow naturally.”