“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)
God does a great work in the hearts of Christian, by his generous love and mercy, to bring us to know Christ, the extent of our sin, and his merciful forgiveness. If God were not generous with his grace and mercy, we would still be his enemies, living for ourselves, and lost in an endless cycle of seeking and grasping at that which would give us fulfillment. However, we are made new creatures in Christ, and as such, we are united to him with the same generosity of grace and mercy through the Holy Spirit. In his commentary on Ezekiel 11:19, John Gill says, “This is a new frame and disposition of mind, in which are new principles of light and life, grace and holiness; a new understanding of themselves and state, of God and of Christ, of divine things and Gospel truths; new affections for God, and all that is good; new desires after grace and righteousness, after God and communion with him, after his word and ordinances, and conformity to Christ; new purposes and resolutions to serve the Lord, and glorify him; new delights and joys, and in short all things become new.” * We once were takers, hoarders of goodness with hearts of stone, but now we are made new, with generous hearts and wallets.
In the early church, there was such unity of Spirit in Christ that the new believers took care of each other. “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:34-35) This kind of generosity sounds radical to us because we have become accustomed to caring for ourselves independently, and are told continuously by the world doing so should be our primary concern. Worldly thinking is directly opposed to biblical principles. When our hearts are split between taking care of ourselves and helping others, we are fragmented in our loyalties, disjointed in our fellowship, and divided in our care for the Body of Christ.
But God’s Word teaches us to: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34). The early Christians did not give up all their possessions but shared what they could without losing what was necessary to live. They did so because “great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). Our generosity with finances and possessions starts with our thankfulness for what Christ has done and continues to do for us and others, as his grace works in our hearts. The generosity of Christ, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich,” is at work in us (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Today, as you attend church services, consider the generosity of the Lord toward you. He has not given you only enough grace for your own needs but abundantly provides so that you can share out of his generosity. Paul writes, “…as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness” (2 Corinthians 8:13b-14).