“Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.” Mark 4:25, The Message
I don’t often use The Message version of the Bible in my studies, but sometimes I’ll flip over to it just to see how a paraphrase brings a different tone to the passage. I love this one above.
“Giving, not getting, is the way … Stinginess impoverishes.”
I guess in the past I’ve always associated this with monetary, or material things in life. If you have been blessed with “stuff”, be sure to be generous! And that’s all well and good.
But I was thinking about this in the context of ministry. And when you’re in ministry, it’s not always “stuff” that you have to give away–it’s more personal than that. It’s giving of yourself. Your time. Your energy. Your heart.
And that, my friends, costs more than “stuff.”
Stinginess impoverishes. It impoverishes myself, others, the ministry God has called me to. When I horde my resources, when I grasp tightly to MY plans, MY schedule, MY dreams … well, that’s when I am stealing from my own life. Stealing joy, energy, freedom in the Lord, passion for what He’s called me to do. All that is lost when I’m stingy.
When I’m generous with my time, I welcome people into my life, and am welcomed into theirs. When I am generous with my energy, I may be more tired, but I am also blessed with the gift of seeing others energized. When I am generous with my heart–and by that I mean actually take the time to share it with others–I am blessed to hear and better understand theirs. When I’m generous of my time with God, and surrendering my self/life/plans/days/minutes to Him, I’m not impoverished. Not. at. all.
But this all takes giving. Being generous. And that, at least for me, is an art. I’ll give you my money, I’ll give you my stuff. But ask me to change my routine? Sacrifice some dreams? Oh wait–lose out on some sleep?? That stretches my heart. And makes me realize just how stingy I can be.
Another awesome paraphrase from The Message:
“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” Luke 12:47-48
Now, I’m not tooting my own horn here, saying I have “great gifts”, but I do believe we are all uniquely equipped to carry out a specific job in God’s Kingdom. And when I’m lazy, stingy, withdrawn, and fearful of giving of myself … well, I just might be in danger of being “thoroughly thrashed.”
God, help me to see that the art of ministry, while not complicated, does require me to give generously of myself, surrendering all that I have and all that I am to You.
What causes you to hold back in ministry? In surrendering to God and His call? Please, tell me I’m not the only one!