by Phil Baker
Have you ever known someone that could be described as “full of life”? Often their character, their demeanor and their outlook has little to do with their circumstance or position in life. Do you ever feel “full of life”? When is it? Is it when you are engaged in a favorite hobby? Hopefully it’s not when you’re doing some stupid, death-defying, adrenaline junkie extreme sport like BASE jumping. I’m willing to bet you feel most alive when you are with someone you love. Because I believe life is all about relationships.
Since we started the Living Generously series, we’ve talked a lot about the “Generously” part – what we can give – money, time, stuff, etc. But what about the “Living” part? Our human inclination is to eventually ask “What am I getting out of this?” It’s a valid question. We all weigh the R.O.I. (Return On Investment) on anything we invest in. So what does living generously get us?
James says “faith without deeds is dead.” So our generosity should be thought of as a byproduct of our faith. It is the natural outward evidence of an inner change. Generosity isn’t so much a command as it is a result. If Jesus is the chicken, generosity is the egg. Think of a sponge. It is obvious when one is completely dry. It will have no signs of moisture on its surface. Its edges will be concave and curled in on itself, like it is ashamed of its sorry state. A wet sponge, on the other hand, will glisten with water. It will be swollen with liquid, its edges rounded and proud. When we have a relationship with God, we can be full of confidence that He holds our future, our present, our time, our stuff and our space.
Remember Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son? After throwing a huge bash for his long lost son, the father went out to the bitter older brother who didn’t understand the reason for the party. The father said “all that is mine is yours.” The older brother missed the point of being WITH his father the whole time. By being with him he not only had his would-be inheritance, he had ALL that his father had. By being WITH our Father, we not only have what He has given us (our money, our time, our space, our stuff) but God says “all that is mine is yours.” By letting go of our finite property in preference to a relationship with God, we attain our eternal inheritance which is too big for our hands to hold.
Now, before you start painting me with the Prosperity Gospel brush, let me finish. You’ll notice in Jesus’ parable that the father doesn’t ask the older brother to give up his inheritance. He doesn’t ask him to tithe it to the church. He doesn’t even reward him with bonus points for sticking around unlike his younger brother. The father just wants to have a relationship with his sons. And he is heartbroken when they don’t want one with him. You see, both sons valued possessions more than a relationship with their father. The younger son eventually learned the lesson. For the older son, the lesson was harder to grasp.
To be “full of life” is to be full of relationships – first is a relationship with your creator, your Heavenly Father. That is the purpose of this series, which could have been called “Generous Life” because it is about getting life and getting it generously. You can be like that person that is “full of life.” You can be that wet sponge that has a relationship with a full sink. You can be that content person by the pool saying “This is the life.”