In Luke 14, Jesus is invited to an important Pharisee’s house for dinner. Jesus watches on as the Pharisee’s friends all jostle for the best seats at the table, which would typically signify their importance. The culture during this time was to invite important people, with high social ranking, wealth or influence, to dine. By being generous to these people, you stood a chance of climbing the social ladder.
Jesus challenges the Pharisee and his guests on this (Luke 14:12–14). He says:
‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’
Jesus’ challenge is this: instead of picking those with high wealth and social status to have the best seats at the table so they’ll return the favour, true biblical generosity means inviting those from whom you have nothing to gain. It is recognising people’s value in God’s sight and giving them the best seat at the table.
Real biblical generosity means pouring out God’s love — that he freely extended to us — on those around us, without condition.
Simon’s story: biblical generosity in action
Simon’s story is one example of how the love of God, poured out generously by his Church, transforms lives. Simon embodies biblical generosity in his life, as he pours out his own kindness and joy to others.
‘My (now deceased) wife used to look after the finances. She was the one that was good with the money, where I wasn’t, and I built up quite a lot of debt. I was living in fear of eviction – I’d been served with an eviction notice from my landlords. I didn’t see a way out of it, so I decided I’d try to end it all.
It was actually my landlords who mentioned Christians Against Poverty. When my Debt Coach, Jim, arrived at my doorstep, nobody had crossed the threshold in the two years I’d been living there. This was the biggest difference that Christians Against Poverty’s process made for me – the house visits.
In July 2016 I got that wonderful telephone call from headquarters at CAP where they said ‘Simon, you are now debt free’ and played the harmonicas, and it’s one of the greatest sounds I’ve ever heard.
I then went to a CAP event where I came to faith. This lady put her hands on my shoulder and prayed for me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and peace and love and warmth that I’ve never experienced before. I just knew what it was, and committed my life to Jesus there and then.
Now, on a Sunday I can’t wait to get up for the service. I just love the church family that I’ve got. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ but we’re closer than blood, and we support each other, we live our lives for each other, we’re there for each other. I praise God and thank God that I now know that he watched over me when I tried to end it all, and he said, ‘No mate, you’re not going yet, you’ve got lots to do’.
It’s turned my life around 180 degrees from completely structureless to having a real purpose in life now. I’ve become a CAP Befriender, a CAP Money Coach, I volunteer at the church food bank and I even set up a choir at my church. I just felt such an overwhelming sense of wanting to give something back.
Both my sons also saw the difference that coming to faith had made to me. My son, Darren, came along to a service, listening intently. That evening, we happened to be having some baptisms, and he chose to come along and be baptised. I’ve never felt so proud in all my life. Five days after his baptism, my son unexpectedly passed away.
Obviously it was a tragic situation for us, but I know he’s found Jesus and he’s been taken to glory with his maker, and he’s sat up there looking down on us. I’m sure he’s proud of what his dad is doing.
Life can still be tough but I’ve always got my church family around me to support me, and I know that I’ve always got Jesus who is my best friend.’
Biblical generosity in practice
Simon’s story beautifully demonstrates the relentless generosity of God’s love. This is a love that is not measured by what he gets in return, but flows boundlessly and endlessly because it is the essence of who God is.
Simon’s story also shows how we can respond. Jesus urges us to love others in the same way he loves us, without condition. That is true biblical generosity. Biblical generosity involves both our compassion and practical actions, just as he showed his love to us. He invites us to join him in a life of generosity, especially to those who find themselves struggling, isolated and overlooked. This is the heart of the gospel.
Will you book a CAP Speaker in 2022 and share this message of practical hope with your church? Your Speaker will inspire and challenge your church with an engaging, Bible-based message and a practical call to action. Join churches across the UK in finding out how you can bring hope to those in debt and poverty by booking a CAP Speaker today.