April 20: Be Generous to Consume?
Joshua 4:1–6:27; 2 Corinthians 9:6–15; Psalm 48
Our culture encourages us to absorb the latest and greatest, and then cast off our gently used devices. We are targeted to accumulate and consume. The new feature we learned about yesterday is now the one we can’t live without. At first, 2 Corinthians 9 seems to appeal to our consumer lifestyle: “The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6).
This verse has often been used to encourage giving, because then, God will provide us with even more. But should we give more for the sake of consuming more? Should this be our motivation for generosity?
Paul debunks this idea in the next verse: “Each one should give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). Certainly, God will provide for those who give; He takes care of those who follow Him. But our willingness to give should not be out of compulsion, obligation, or giving in order to receive. Selfish giving produces selfishness, not the love and mercy God desires (Micah 6:8).
God is incredibly generous. He gives us gifts—even sending His Son to die for us. As a result of His gracious love, we should also freely give. It reflects the thankfulness in our hearts: “being made rich in every way for all generosity” (2 Cor 9:11).
God’s generosity doesn’t hinge on our giving. We should give out of love for Him, and not from expecting a return on our investment.
What are your motives for giving?
Rebecca Van Noord
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, April 20 Go To Evening Reading
“That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death.”
O child of God, death hath lost its sting, because the devil’s power over it is destroyed. Then cease to fear to die. Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost, that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of thy Redeemer’s death, thou mayst be strengthened for that dread hour. Living near the cross of Calvary thou mayst think of death with pleasure and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is sweet to die in the Lord: it is a covenant blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great, but it is not so. We are not far from home—a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will be its voyage? How many wearying winds must beat upon the sail ere it shall be reefed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be tossed upon the waves before it comes to that sea which knows no storm? Listen to the answer, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” Yon ship has just departed, but it is already at its haven. It did but spread its sail, and it was there. Like that ship of old, upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, “Peace, be still,” and immediately it came to land. Think not that an extended period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth, they open in heaven. The horses of fire are not an instant on the road. Then, O child of God, what is there for thee to fear in death, seeing that through the death of thy Lord its curse and sting are destroyed? And now it is but Jacob’s ladder whose foot is in the dark grave, but its top reaches to glory everlasting.
Go To Morning Reading Evening, April 20
“Fight the Lord’s battles.”
—1 Samuel 18:17
The sacramental host of God’s elect is warring still on earth, Jesus Christ being the Captain of their salvation. He has said, “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Hark to the shouts of war! Now let the people of God stand fast in their ranks, and let no man’s heart fail him. It is true that just now in England the battle is turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus lifts his sword, we know not what may become of the church of God in this land; but let us be of good courage, and play the man. There never was a day when Protestantism seemed to tremble more in the scales than now that an aggressive effort is making to restore the Romish antichrist to his ancient seat. We greatly want a bold voice and a steady hand to preach and publish the old gospel for which martyrs bled, and confessors died. The Saviour is, by his Spirit, still on earth; let this cheer us. He is ever in the midst of the fight, and therefore the battle is not doubtful. And as the conflict rages, what a sweet satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in his office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for his people! O anxious gazer, look not so much at the battle below, for there thou shalt be enshrouded in smoke, and amazed with garments rolled in blood; but lift thine eyes yonder where the Saviour lives and pleads, for a while he intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that all depends on him.
Now, by the lilies of Christian purity, and by the roses of the Saviour’s atonement, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, we charge you who are lovers of Jesus to do valiantly in the Holy War. For truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and crown jewels of your Master. Onward! “for the battle is not yours but God’s.”
Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896. Print.
Can a saint slander God?
For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen. 2 Cor. 1:20.
Jesus told the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25 as a warning that it is possible for us to misjudge our capacity. This parable has not to do with natural gifts, but with the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Ghost. We must not measure our spiritual capacity by education or by the intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured by the promises of God. If we get less than God wants us to have, before long, we will slander Him as the servant slandered his master: ‘You expect more than You give me the power to do; You demand too much of me, I cannot stand true to You where I am placed.’ When it is a question of God’s Almighty Spirit, never say ‘I can’t.’ Never let the limitation of natural ability come in. If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be manifested in us.
The servant justified himself in everything he did and condemned his lord on every point—‘Your demand is out of all proportion to what you give.’ Have we been slandering God by daring to worry when He has said: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”? Worrying means exactly what this servant implied—‘I know You mean to leave me in the lurch.’ The person who is lazy naturally is always captious—‘I haven’t had a decent chance,’ and the one who is lazy spiritually is captious with God. Lazy people always strike out on an independent line.
Never forget that our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the promises of God. Is God able to fulfill His promises? Our answer depends on whether we have received the Holy Spirit.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
There stood by me this night the angel of God … saying, Fear not, Paul.… God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore … be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me
Acts 27:23, 24, 25
An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it [is] not yet performed; knowing that God’s bonds are as good as ready money.
Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.