My husband is extraordinarily generous, annoyingly so…cuz I’m not nearly as generous as he!
No one pays for a meal if he is there (only under duress)
He’s given freely of our home to people who’ve needed one, without counting pennies over the added bills
He’s sold our used cars for under market value, he even sold one for a $1 once to a family in need. And he’s religious about maintaining cars so if you’re lucky enough to buy one, it will always be in top condition
Our technology graveyard alone might add value to our house, but nope, it goes to anyone who needs it
He also loves giving to things like camp scholarships, groceries for families in need, Christmas gifts to single moms, GoFundMe’s and such
One year when it came time to donate to youth camp scholarships we were jobless and I saw him getting ready to send some money…I quietly said,
“It’s okay, let someone else have a turn”
He sighed a big sigh of relief and only paid for one…
He never wants attention either. It embarrasses him to be thanked and acknowledged for his generosity (but please don’t let that stop you!)
I think the only thing he wouldn’t give freely is the shirt off his back and that’s because he’s uncomfortable being shirtless in public…
I recently listened to a reading of that old book nugget, “What Would Jesus Do?” It challenged me. I remember when it was making the rounds in youth groups in the 90’s. If memory serves, it was often equated with things like sexual purity and avoiding gossip.
Not the intent of the book!
The book came out during the height of the industrialization era when wealth was exorbitant and prejudice was common among church attending people. They often equated wealth with goodness, and poverty with an inaction on the part of the poor to help themselves.
When a poor person shows up during the Sunday service of a wealthy church, and eventually dies because of circumstances resulting from poverty, the pastor asks his congregation,
“What would Jesus do?”
Of course today, anyone with a nickel in their pocket and even a cursory knowledge of the Gospels would know that Jesus would have met this dying man’s need in some fashion, and used it to teach a lesson of some kind, that linked to the Kingdom.
That wasn’t what challenged me though. Bruce has been doing that kind of thing for so long it’s 2nd nature to me. In fact, it sort of made me roll my eyes to think that the congregation had to be reminded that meeting needs is a fundamental task of the church.
One that maybe we’ve abdicated to the government…?
What really got me was the question they all began to ask themselves as they began to do what they assumed Jesus would do,
What does following Jesus cost me?
As a young girl I read a book once that marked me. It was a Christian romance novel, called “Not My Will”. One of the characters in the book used the story of a bond servant to describe the Christian faith. It’s the idea that as believers we choose to be indentured to Jesus as servants for life.
We go where he goes, do what he does and obey his directives at all times. And we count the cost of what it will mean for us.
Bond servants bore a permanent mark of some kind. Often an earring or a bracelet. It identified them to the world as servants of someone royal or wealthy. Our mark today would be the Holy Spirit. And while there may not be an outward mark such as an earring or bracelet, our lives are different because of that spirit and it’s transformative activity in us.
Of course, romance novels being romance novels, she ends up with the guy and a lifetime romance in the service of her faith!
When I ask myself the question, “What does it cost me to follow Jesus?” I come up short…
Complaints about inconvenience and material wants niggle at me. Bruce would happily wear 4 shirts, a pair of pj’s and 2 pairs of pants for life.
And he’s never wanted fancy ‘stuff’ (except cars). He has no expensive hobbies (skiing went out the door years ago) and while he hit Disneyland yearly when he was single, he wouldn’t bother today. He’d probably even give up multiple streaming services as long as he could see the last season of ‘Ted Lasso’!
I’ve written before that The American Dream does not equal The Christian Life. It’s not in the Bible, no matter how many verses we claim about our provision and needs. If anything, we’re promised suffering. But American Christians, have so long been influenced by the thinking of personal liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness that we’ve indelibly connected it to our faith.
But when I listened to these people asking themselves what it cost them to follow Jesus I was amazed at the price they paid for this decision to ‘do what Jesus would do’. Some lost their reputations, others their wealth, one lost family and another her potential fame as a singer.
But they watched as people came to Jesus! They moved to a place of repentance, for their selfish ambitions and their lack of care for others. And they saw widespread revival. Especially in the communities with ‘less’.
I began to ask myself,
What does it cost me to follow Jesus?
I suppose I could count up a few things. Like living in a 2 flat instead of a private home. Or having a detached garage and an icy hike up the stairs with groceries in winter. Laundry in a basement instead of the main floor. I could count up the relationships that I’ve lost or let go of because of the effects they’ve had on my faith.
None of those things seem important when weighed next to the sacrifices made by others, who are living under extraordinary circumstance in other parts of the world.
The historic church has never seen as much persecution in it’s history as it currently experiences. My inconveniences pale in comparison…
One of the things that also stood out in the book was the idea that Jesus bought our lives with his, so it SHOULD cost me something to follow him!
As Bruce and I navigate this next season of our lives, we know that God has a purpose for us. It won’t strictly be for our own financial gain or physical comfort. And I also know that we are counting the cost of what it will mean to obey. Because there’s always a cost! But God alone knows what price will create the image of his son in us.
And that’s what the world needs more than anything!