Love or fear.
Generosity as a characteristic is incredibly attractive. Something I’ve noticed is that generosity is not based on material goods. Some of the most generous people I have come across would not be classed as rich in most people’s eyes. Yet they were never in lack and hardly ever in a place of discontent even when circumstances looked tight. They were always desirous to give something especially if it was something as valuable as their time and attention for you.
The opposite quality is being stingy. There is something about that characteristic which has looked to hide itself behind terms such as ‘prudent’, ‘cautious’ and even in a highly presumptuous way ‘wise’. The stingy nature, however, requires a self-centred attitude. And an attitude based on ‘concern’ for what would happen if, then in the light of that ‘concern’, they rationalise that rather than giving and losing, they might as well keep.
That ‘concern’ is a disguise for fear. Fear that drives people to withdraw and withhold at just the time when the opposite is needed. Experience, however, reinforces those ‘concerns’. You give someone your trust and they betray it. You give someone your time and they effectively waste it. Not to mention what they do to your heart if they ever get that close to you. So, understandably, for safety reasons, it’s best, so we reason, not to give much away.
One of the compelling qualities of Christ is His love. This love brought Him into the lives of twelve men and He entrusted His life to them. So much so that one was close enough to betray Him. So much so that He even knew they would desert Him and yet He entrusted Himself to them, called them friends, washed their feet and modeled the kind of love worth pursuing. This kind of love was never deterred or rationalised away because of fear. It didn’t ignore fear either, it acknowledged the very presence of fear and overcame it because the darkness of fear could never overcome the light of love.
This model is also evident in the love that the disciples would have for each other. Persecution and opposition did not defeat it, it only let it spread to wider parts of the known world. People captured by this love began pursuing it and expressing it and found life so much more fulfilling in sharing and experiencing the blessing in giving rather than receiving.
Fear still looks to hold people in their grip ad as they withhold and withdraw. The tragedy continues to be that the more they withdraw and withhold, the more they shrivel and look to make the world around shrivel too. Living in fear is no life at all.
The life that Jesus offers is about a love that trusts and gives. He gives and broken lives are made whole by it. He gives and emptiness turns to overflowing by it. He gives and the oppressed are set free.
This is why this kind of love is worth pursuing, it’s the kind of thing worth making life all about, it’s just the kind of quality that should define a man.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden