My fraternity, which periodically did service projects, had a very good motto: “Give expecting nothing thereof.” It’s based upon Luke 6:35—“love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”
Do you see how radical this is? Jesus wasn’t saying, “love your coworker, even if he’s unable to do anything for you.” Or, “love your wife and don’t expect anything in return.”
Jesus was actually calling us to love our enemies, and expect nothing in return.
Because that is precisely how God loved you. And me. When we were in rebellion and full of pride and self-righteousness, God moved toward us and regenerated our hearts and enabled us to see our desperate need and the all-sufficient grace offered by Christ. (Rom 5:6-8)
God gave us Christ without expecting anything in return. And the more we know Him, the more we will do the same.
Christ who poured Himself out now calls us to pour ourselves out in sacrificial ways for others:
if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places… (Isaiah 58:10-11)
Compare these translations of Isaiah 58:10…
feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. (NLT)
if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted (NRSV)
…with these translations:
and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry (KJV)
and if you give yourself to the hungry (NASB)
when thou sheddest out thy soul, to an hungry man, and fillest a tormented soul (Wycliffe)
Do you see the difference? The NLT and NRSV really lose the essence of the main idea—that God is calling us to give sacrificially, to give in a way that empties us out.
(I’m not, by the way, calling us to burn ourselves out. That happens sometimes. More on that in Part 2 of this post.)
Bruce Waltke says that in God’s Word “the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves” but the “righteous are willing to disadvantage themselves to advantage” others.
We tend to think of righteous and wicked as descriptions of someone’s internal spiritual life. But over and over God tells us that a wicked man is one who hoards his resources for himself. And a righteous man is described as one who gives what he has to bless others. As Jesus did:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)
I like this African proverb from the Yombe people in Congo—“Dia lobula” means to “give your neighbor the bread already in your mouth.”
How often do you think of generosity in those terms?
Real generosity is not just giving away stuff you don’t need. Is it actually generous when you give away old furniture or clothes your kids have outgrown? Giving away stuff you don’t need anymore isn’t “pouring yourself out”—it’s spring cleaning!
Real generosity is not measured by what I can spare, but by the need of my neighbor.
“To be a Christian is to move toward need, not comfort.” – John Piper
God saw that what we needed was full redemption, a salvation that could only occur if His beloved Son left comfort and safety behind, to move toward your need. To suffer and die in your place. The Father was willing to give that, Jesus was willing to endure that, because of our need and His love.
As I ponder how open-handed He was in giving His most precious Son to make me His son, I find I’m not so tight-fisted. I don’t cling to every dollar, and every hour, that I possess.
I should stop here, but I have more to share on this topic. So come back soon for Part 2!